The Softball League began in 1977 to provide lesbians and their friends a feminist sports center for social activity in the Pioneer Valley. The league grew from a team, the Lucy B. Stoners, organized by Eileen Stewart out of the South West Womens's Center in 1976. The League's original founders were Jean Grossholtz, Eileen Stewart, Susan Tracy, and Maryann Jennings.
In 1977 they fielded six teams, Common Womon, Hot Flashes, Woman Rising, No Nukes of the North, and a team from College Church and from Hatfield.
The League was renamed the Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League in 1991. The League, under Mary V.'s organizing efforts and skills, grew from six teams to sixteen at its height.
Valley Women's History Collaborative (VWHC)
The Valley Women's History Collaborative has collected oral histories of many women, including audio recorded interviews of League players, and has created a collection of photos, books, magazines, posters, meeting minutes, schedules, and other materials (including t-shirts and a softball glove) that is now housed at the UMASS DuBois Library Special Collections Archives.
In League With Us: The Mary Vazquez Women's Softball League, Film on DVD, 2007
At a time when there were very few opportunities for women to play organized team sports, this league was started by a group of passionately political lesbian feminists in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1976. This independently produced film documents the league's history and evolution over time. From the beginning, the League's core philosophy has been one of inclusion - any woman regardless of ability was, and is, encouraged to play. This League has provided a sanctuary, a social hub, a place for women to share their athleticism.
To find out more about local independent filmmaker Lacey Johnston or to order a copy of In League With Us, visit Elle Jay Productions.