By LAUREN BARRY
Journal & Topics Reporter
Rosemont is abuzz in preparation for the upcoming Chicago Bandits professional women’s softball season starting June 1.
Toni Calmeyn, a longtime financial advisor for the village of Rosemont, was selected in January as new general manager of the champion Bandits who play their home games at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
“The mayor and I have talked sports for years,” said Calmeyn.
In addition to over eight years of financial experience with the village, Calmeyn has coached her daughter’s softball team and is an avid follower of baseball, basketball and college football. She is a self-described “sports fanatic.”
Rosemont took ownership of the Bandits late last year after a meeting in Nashville, Calmeyn told the Journal & Topics. The team was created in 2004 by Bill Conroy and Bill Sokolis. In the past 13 years, the Bandits have won five regular season championships and are four-time winners of the Cowles Cup National Pro Fastpitch League championship.
In 2011, the team moved to its permanent home to The Ballpark. The team won the Cowles Cup back-to-back in 2015 and 2016.
Since Rosemont solidified the team’s connection to the village, Calmeyn has been working to transition into her new position and to get the team prepared in time for the season to begin.
“So far so good,” she said of the experience.
One major change this year is the addition of eight new players from Australia, plus Australian coach Kathy Horton. She will join head coach Sharonda McDonald as well as assistant coach Kyla Holas and strength/conditioning coach Jason Domnanovich.
“We have been busy with visa paperwork,” explained Calmeyn. “Everyone has been approved.”
Some of the team’s players from previous years have been signed up for this year as well. Stacy May Johnson, a player who helped the team clinch the Cowles Cup in 2008 and 2011, is on this year’s roster after six years in retirement. During her years off the field, Johnson coached for Purdue and the United States National Team. Under her guidance, the national team won gold and silver medals.
Other than lining up this year’s team, Calmeyn has also been working to purchase equipment, book travel arrangements for away games, set up a new ticket director and market ticket sales. This year, group ticket sales will be offered, she said.
Calmeyn has been looking for sponsors for the team, including corporate sponsors, vendors and others.
“It’s such a different role for me,” she said. “It’s been great to meet the players, and work with the players. It’s been very, very exciting.”
A new version of the Chicago Bandits website under Calmeyn’s direction, chicagobandits.com, went live Friday. Over the course of the 2017 season, she hopes to add interactive elements to the site as well as opportunities for fans to connect with the team.