By MIRIAM FINDER ANNENBERG
Journal & Topics Sports
The Chicago Bandits’ season came to a close Aug. 18 after the team fell to USSSA Pride in a playoff game.
While softball team’s last game ended in a loss, General Manager Toni Calmeyn recounted the season -- the first under village of Rosemont ownership -- as a success.
“Overall, I think it was a good experience for everybody,” Calmeyn said. “It turned out to be a good thing.”
The Bandits, who ended the regular season 25-24, have disbanded for the off-season, allowing Calmeyn and other staff the chance to reflect -- and ramp up for 2018.
“We’re already working on next year,” Calmeyn said. “We can start now basically what we started in February last year.”
Rosemont officially took over ownership of the Bandits in January 2017, with Calmeyn stepping into the GM role later that month. Calmeyn has more time this year for resetting contracts with trainers and staff, as well as for putting together the best team of athletes, all without the rush of last season.
She said all of the players asked to return to the Bandits next year, included players all the way from Australia.
Calmeyn said she is also using this time for planning sponsorships, working toward getting more area businesses on board with the Bandits. The Bandits play their home games at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
With a season of experience behind her, Calmeyn feels more prepared for some of the challenges of managing the team in the upcoming year, such as crafting a travel schedule that prevents the players from struggling through travel and games all in one day.
When playing at home, the Bandits drew around 1,000 fans each game to The Ballpark at Rosemont. Moving forward, Calmeyn wants to continue enhancing the fan experience, incorporating fun activities between innings and engaging kids from the crowd.
“We want it to be that fan experience that they enjoy coming to,” Calmeyn said.
As Bandits staff works toward a successful 2018 season, many of the players and coaches are spending their off-seasons centered around softball, as well. Many of the girls coach college softball, with one player coaching at the University of Wisconsin; one working as a pitching coach at Duke University; and Bandits head coach Sharonda McDonald coaching at Ohio State University.
The timing of the off-season also works nicely for Calmeyn, who continues to work in finance at the village of Rosemont. Bandits work slows down just in time for year-end finance and budget reports, and her finance work abates as the Bandits season picks up.
The team will regroup in May, a time Calmeyn said she looks forward to watch the team come together, take the field and play.
“That is what’s gratifying. To see them come in and play at the top of their game,” she said. “[And they] come back and say, ‘This was a great experience, please bring me back.’ You can’t ask for more than that.”