What We Play For 

By jess

AFCS Elite 8 2023

Interview and Story by Emma Breer


“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives” (Jackie Robinson). When looking for examples of how lives can affect others, one need not look beyond the 2K9 Impact 


The 2K9 team “is one of the most talented groups in the organization” says Jazz Vesely, head of the Impact organization, and they’ve had a lot of success in their time with the Alliance. They won 12u Nationals in 2022 and took third place at 14u Nationals in 2023 – as a first year 14U team who was seeded 20th going into the AFCS! 


Coach Jared Bryant says that Alliance Nationals is the “tournament they most look forward to” every year. They enjoy the structure and how games are seven innings versus a time limit, much like other national tournaments. He feels it creates a different dynamic in the competition and that playing seven innings can allow the better teams to come out on top versus an error one minute before the drop-dead clock making the difference. Coach Bryant also likes the player awards; he likes seeing “girls get recognized at the end of tournaments.” 


About half of this team has been together for nearly four years. They’ve aged together like a family. Coach Bryant has admired getting to watch this group grow, enjoying watching the tremendous work ethic of these girls and seeing their desire to be the best at what they’re doing. He’s also seen them develop their IQ of the game, with a greater understanding of various situational aspects. “They’ve grown in maturity on how to handle failure…It seems like a night and day jump.” Coach Bryant said. “They’ve always had talent, but now maturity is catching up.” 


How else have these girls grown? Through the impact of their teammate, Morgan “Mo” Wilson. During the 2023 season, Mo passed tragically. Initially, Coach Bryant didn’t receive the news. His wife called and said something bad had happened, but he didn’t realize the severity immediately. When he finally realized the truth of what occurred after a couple of calls, he was in denial. “It’s the toughest thing to deal with as a coach.” Even after hearing about the incident, the team still must continue to play. “It was like losing family” for all these girls and they were expected to continue playing the game they immediately associated with Mo. 


Coach Bryant started thinking. “How do we make it fun for the girls now? How do we make the team keep going for her?” That’s when it hit him; they could flip the outlook of Mo’s association with the game. Mo was a very talented young athlete and could have had numerous opportunities available to her as she grew up. Coach Bryant decided instead of looking at Mo’s connection to softball as something tragic, they could “make it something to honor her.” 


The hashtag, #playforMo3, was commonly used to represent their new philosophy through the 2023 season. Everything they did was for Mo. Every time they stepped on the field, they were playing for Mo. “They put Mo at the forefront of their thoughts all the time,” Vesely said. Coach Bryant also described some gestures they made as well. 


“Everything Mo3” is written on the back of their Sunday jerseys. They created patches for players to put on helmets and visors. Coaches and parents also put these patches on shirts and hats. The team also has a “Mo belt” you get to wear for doing something great. It was tragic for them to lose Mo, but taking her memory as an inspiration to be the best you can be on and off the field is a better approach to life than mourning constantly. But it takes someone truly meaningful to influence that type of encouragement. 


With that drive fueled by Mo to be everything they can and more on the field, it led to one of the most competitive games Impact played over the season, the game Coach Bryant described as “the most fun game (he) ever coached.” They were playing the soon-to-be runner-up at Nationals in 2023. It was a 2-2 game that lasted eleven innings with four international tiebreakers. The girls were full of fight until the end. “These games depend on pure execution,” Coach Bryant said. Games that require clean defense, bunting, stealing, sacrifice, and the occasional clutch hit are the games players truly live for. Mo had started inspiring her teammates as far as what they put onto the field, and it could easily be seen in the fight the girls had in that game. Impact may have lost, but that was a game you still walk away from with pride, despite the result. That was a game to be proud of their growth as players, skillfully and intellectually, and their fight in an intensely competitive environment. 


No one realizes they can influence the lives of others until they actually do. With the 2K9 Impact, they weren’t anticipating the passing of Mo, but instead of letting the devastating situation weigh on their backs, they let her memory lift them to be the best versions of themselves. 

Impact Gold 2k9 National 14u takes 3rd place at the 2023 AFCS

Impact Gold 2k9 12u takes home the title of 12u Tier I National Champions at the 2022 AFCS