There are few things more wholesome than the excite- ment of parents watching and cheering on their kids from the sidelines. The atmosphere of youth sports games is dictated by father-coaches yelling and stereotypical soccer moms devoting their time to be the team mascot. Unfortunately, as the kids grow older and they begin to filter out by who has the potential to play in college and who does not, these age- old tropes retire from their unwritten roles in the team.
For Abby Wingo, however, the smiling faces of her parents and their heartening cheers from the stands are still present at her collegiate games. Having practically been raised on a softball field by softball-loving parents, there was never a doubt they would miss an opportunity to watch their daughter play the sport they love. In fact, they hope to continue their near-perfect attendance by showing up to all her collegiate games as well – both in the Big East and non-conference.
“I committed [to Seton Hall] on Mother’s Day of my sophomore year,” Wingo said. “About a year-and-a-half after that, my parents said they wanted to come see me play at every Big East stadium, which really isn’t that crazy. We play home and away every season, so you’d figure it would take them two years to get to each stadium. And then, they had this great idea that they wanted to see me play everywhere!”
After missing the team’s first four games at the Elon Softball Classic, Wingo’s parents traveled down from Portland, Oregon to attend the Golden State Classic in Lake Elsinore, California. At the time of writing, her parents are driving through Texas to arrive in Lake Elsinore for the team’s next five games at the Chanticleer Showdown.
“They said ‘we’re going to get an RV and drive around,’ so I said ‘yeah, OK, sure,’” Wingo said. “So, then I get a FaceTime call on a Saturday morning from them saying they bought an RV.” Wingo could not help but laugh when recalling that morning FaceTime call.
The drives to Wingo’s last few softball games before joining the Seton Hall team were spent in the RV as her parents got a feel for what life would be like on the road. With Wingo now in college, her father has fully committed to working on the road whenever they travel for her games, and they even listed their house in Portland on Airbnb while they travel across the country to see their daughter play softball.
“They’ve been to every- thing,” Wingo said. “I don’t remember a whole lot of games in my career they haven’t been to. That weekend in Elon was very weird because they would watch the stats, but you can’t see where the ball was going. They would ask me about at- bats, but I would explain it to them as if they were there and already saw it."
Being an only child, she never feels that the effort her parents put in to attend her games is too much. While most may be embarrassed by having their parents around as often as Wingo’s are, she looks forward to their visits with excitement. The gratitude for her parent’s efforts was evident in the joy she showed in retelling the initial stories of the RV and her parents’ budding idea to travel the country in it.
“They are pretty much staying on the east coast for the rest of the year,” Wingo said. We’re playing in South Carolina this weekend, then Florida, then drive back up to New Jersey and drive everywhere. They’re having fun with it, which is nice. Some of it’s not just about softball either. They’re going to see some cool stuff along the way and come watch if they want.”
With the softball season barely underway, Wingo’s parents have much to look for- ward to on top of their trips to South Carolina and Florida. As the schedule stands, Seton Hall have road trips lined up to Hofstra, Butler, St. John’s, Georgetown, Rutgers and Villanova before the Big East regular season ends.
“They joke about parking outside of Boland, but that’s the one thing I said, ‘no way’ to,” Wingo said. No matter where I go, I know my parents are going to be there to support me. I know in some dynamics people wouldn’t want that, but I’m completely fine with it.”
Wingo, the Seton Hall softball team and Wingo’s parents will be back in action this weekend as they take on Iona College and Coastal Carolina University on Feb. 21 in Conway, South Carolina.
Justin Sousa can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @JustinSousa99.