Vargas Interview

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According to the National Federation of High Schools there are less than 1,300 girls that play high school baseball. That works out to about .0028% of the players nationally. Can the girls really compete with the guys? We found a player in New Jersey that definitely has "got game!"

Crystal Vargas
Marist High School
Bayonne, New Jersey
Baseball Player

Question: Okay - We'll get the obvious question out of the way first. Why baseball over softball?

Crystal: I started playing baseball at age 6 and I just never made the switch to softball. I knew that I'd have to give up pitching overhand if I played softball. In Little League I was very dominant so I decided to continue playing the game and see how far I could go.

Question: Did you play youth baseball from the start? Have you ever played girls softball? Did the girls softball coach at Marist try to get you to play for them?

Crystal: Yes. I started out with tee-ball. The first time that I played softball was in the 7th grade. It was C.Y.O. league and I played for a school called St. Paul's. I still continued playing baseball though. I also played softball in 8th grade. When I went to Marist it was already established that I would be playing baseball. The softball team had two teachers coaching at the time and they did not try to get me on the girl's team. Marist later found a new coach and he did try to get me on the softball team, but I was very stubborn. I told him that I was a BASEBALL PLAYER.

Question: You play at Marist High School. Did you talk to the baseball coach before you tried out for the team the first time - or did you just show up?

Crystal: Okay. Here's what happened. Vinnie Bello was the head coach of the varsity baseball team my first 2 years, the assistant was Mike Silveire, who became the head coach, at the beginning of my junior year. Coach Gene Klumpp became his assistant, but I was already on the team.

My junior year did not go as I expected. I really felt that I did not get the same opportunity as the other players, on the team. I only pitched 6 innings the entire season. I remember striking out 8 batters in those 6 innings. I was told that I was going to be an asset to the team, but it just did not happen. If I had known that it was going to be like it was, I would have played softball. I went through a lot emotionally that year and decided that I was going to play softball.

When Coach Klumpp had his first baseball meeting I did not attend. We spoke personally and I was told that I be given a fair chance. I decided to take the chance and here I am.

Question: How did Coach Krumpp react to your wanting to be a member of the boy's baseball team at Marist? Did he give you any advice?

Crystal: Coach Klumpp knows that I have been a baseball player all of my life. Basically Hudson County is "used to" Crystal Vargas playing baseball, so it was not a big deal. Coach Klumpp told me to work as hard as I have in the past and we'd figure it out from there.

Question: What was the reaction to the boys on the team when you tried out? And then when you made the team? Any problems? Comments from anyone?

Crystal: Most of the guys on the team have played baseball with me in Little League or Babe Ruth, so, they were okay about my decision. Some guys would tell me to play softball and become an "All-American." I'd just respond; "Who says that I won't be an "All-American" in baseball?" You never know. Other than that the team has been very supportive.

Question: I understand from Coach Krumpp that you are a very respected and integral part of the team - how long did that take - or was it that way from the start?

Crystal: I knew that I had the respect of the team from the start. The guys were confident having me on the mound. Right there I knew that they respected me and my ability.

Question: Your parent's would be a very important part of this - How did they react to your wanting to be on the baseball team?

Crystal: My parents (Glen and Maribel Vargas) could not be more supportive! They respect all the decisions I make and are behind me 100%. I honestly think that if I did not have the parents that I do, I would not even be playing baseball.

Question: Do you get any "cat-calling" or taunts from opposing teams?

Crystal: This question brings back some memories. :-) Just this past summer I came into a game in relief for a 16-18 year old team that I was playing on. The first guy I faced struck out. Obviously it was his first "K" by a girl. He went crazy! The bat was slammed and I really heard his mouth! I found it so amusing.

Question: I know that you are a pitcher on the Marist team - Do you play any other positions? Does Coach Krumpp let you bat? Are you a good hitter?

Crystal: I also play first base, but I have experience at every infield position, even catcher. Coach Klumpp doesn't know about that. During the summer I played a lot at second catcher. I have a good feeling that I will be in the line-up. I think that I am a pretty good hitter. This past summer I did very well so hopefully I can continue that during my senior season.

Question: How did it feel when you struck-out your first "boy" in a high school baseball game?

Crystal: Normal. (but that was on the JV team) I was brought up at the end of my sophomore year to pitch against St. Peter's Prep (county champs). I was SO scared. I ended up striking out 3 batters in 3 innings. It felt like a dream and I was speechless! Especially when I found out that one of the guys that I struck out was a senior and a 1st team "all county" player! I was happy about that.

Question: There are about 456,000 high school baseball players in the country this year - there are only about 1,300 girls playing baseball - about .0028%. Did you realize there were that few girls doing what you are?

Crystal: WOW! I did not realize that. Hopefully the numbers will change.

Question: Do you play summer baseball? If so for which team - Where?

Crystal: Yes. I play for a 16-18 year old league. It is in Jersey City. I also played for a select team that competed in Canada. I also played softball (15-16) for the second straight year in Jersey City.

Question: Do you play any other sports at Marist?

Crystal: Yes. I am a 1st team "all county", honorable mention "all state" soccer player. I also participate on the varsity bowling team, for which I made "all-stars." I am currently participating in bowling now.

Question: Which sport is your favorite?

Crystal: Baseball. I never thought that I would be "good" in the other sports since I only started playing them as a freshman. But I happen to like sports and worked hard. It has payed off.

Question: Do the other player's on the Marist team treat you like "one of the guys?"

Crystal: Yes they do. But I'm glad because I don't want to feel like an outcast. They know their limits though. They "respectfully" treat me like one of the guys.

Question: I know that one of the favorite pastimes in a high school baseball dugout is for the player's to talk about the girls at school. Does this happen in the Marist dugout? Do the guys include you in their conversations?

Crystal: LOL. This definitely happens! Sure, the guys include me in the conversations to find out about my girl friends.

Question: Do you want to play baseball on the college level?

Crystal: I would love to! But who is ready to give me the opportunity is the question? Right now I am 90% sure that I'll be playing softball in college. Unless I get a real fair shot at playing baseball. Will that ever happen? Who knows!

Question: Do you have a favorite professional baseball player?

Crystal: Derek Jeter! I love him. What girl doesn't? He's athletic, he's from New Jersey and he is CUTE!

Question: Do you have a career choice yet? (What do you want to be?)

Crystal: I really want to major in pre- medicine. I hope to be a doctor someday. My other long term dream is to be a musical performer. I have been a percussionist since I was five years old and music is a big part of me. I've even been able to play with many famous latin musicians, and have also been on TV and radio. I hope that someday I will be "discovered."

Question: How has playing an "all-male" sport helped you prepare for your future?

Crystal: I've experienced so much at such a young age. I've learned how to handle pressure playing this "all-male" sport. It really has made me stronger person and I owe thanks to those that have supported me.

Question: You mentioned people that have supported you and the thanks that you owe them. Is there anyone that you would like to say "thank you" to in this interview?

Crystal: I would like to thank all of my Babe Ruth coaches who have really believed in me. Thanks to my brother Joe, who's instruction I still follow. Mr. Mike Hogan -- Your baseball camps were great. I can never forget them. Mr. Eddie Ford -- Thank you for believing in me, your coaching has helped me break barriers. And last but not least, to my coach Gene Klumpp -- Thank You for the opportunity that you are giving me. You will not regret it!

Question: As you get ready for your "senior season" at Marist - If you had it to do all over again - Would you change anything?

Crystal: No, I would not. This has been a great experience overall.

Coming Monday -- Comments and thoughts by Marist High School Head Coach -- Gene Klumpp Interview

Marist High School
1241 Kennedy Blvd.
Bayonne, NJ 07002
Phone: 201-437-4544


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