Pride Month Spotlight: Learn Softball Toronto

Pride Month Spotlight: Learn Softball Toronto

30 June 2023 Emma Lindblad

During the month of June, we celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion and look to support initiatives within the softball community that help provide an open and safe space for members of all sexualities and gender identities. Learn Softball Toronto does just that.

Located in Toronto, Ont., Learn Softball Toronto is a beginner softball league for adults who identify as women, transgender, or non-binary and who are looking to learn the sport from the ground up at a beginner level.

“The idea came from my experience in the co-ed recreational softball community- where the perpetual issue has always been and continues to be – where are the women? Why are there only three women at every game? Who do most teams play with the minimum requirement of women at each game?”, said Kim Stemshorn, the founder of Learn Softball Toronto.

Kim originally built the league with the intention of working with women, but soon realized there was something bigger possible.

“As I began to understand the complexity of the issue of equity and opportunity in softball more, it became apparent to me that transgender and non-binary folks have even fewer inclusive and explicitly welcoming spaces to play softball,” explained Stemshorn.

Now well into its third year, Learn Softball Toronto has developed into a fun and inclusive space for players to learn and grow in the sport. The league offers three-hour sessions, with one-part skills and drills and two-thirds part game.

“Adults at the recreational level don’t often give time to practice and hone in on skills, at Learn Softball Toronto, we have reserved space and time in our programming for that, allowing players to get some repetition in as they develop their skills,” said Stemshorn.

The league looks to not only help promote the sport of softball, but they also look to create memorable moments and experiences that positively influence the players and the community.

“Special events and fun programming have also generated community among our players. We have hosted ‘Field Trips’ to see Team Canada play in Guelph and Oshawa, we gathered everyone to watch the 1992 film, A league of Their Own at a Toronto Park, and the coaches invited players to cheer them on at one of their fastpitch games…we have lots of fun on and off the field!”, expressed Stemshorn.

At an older age, it can be daunting to try and learn a new sport or hobby, while finding time in one’s schedule often feels impossible. Learn Softball Toronto have taken everything there is to love about softball and fused it into their programming at a pace where beginners can easily access it.

Creating and maintaining a softball league can have its challenges. There are endless possibilities but often never enough money to do everything.

“The biggest challenge is doing everything we want to do - we just can't. In 2022, Learn Softball Toronto became an incorporated not-for-profit organization, which gave more structure and parameters to our programming. We are open to growth; we are just realistic that our volunteers that keep Learn Softball Toronto running are doing this in addition to our day jobs and softball leagues we play in,” said Stemshorn.

With the future looking bright for this league, there are always more goals to strive for.

“In efforts to grow fastpitch softball, I would love to create a beginner fastpitch league. I'd also like to see more umpires who identify as women, trans, and non-binary. We hosted a Softball Ontario Level I Umpire Clinic at our go-to bar Swan Dive in May and we are in talks with Softball Ontario to host a six-week fastpitch clinic for beginner pitchers.”

Environmental sustainability is also a key focus for Learn Softball Toronto, with hopes to team up with an electric cargo bike company. “I am dreaming about a Learn Softball Toronto-branded Larry vs. Harry or Riese & Müller electric cargo bike to help transport our gear to each session”, said Stemshorn.

Learn Softball TO has raised the bar for what’s possible for beginner adult leagues, while creating an inclusive environment where women, transgender, and non-binary players feel welcomed and valued. Check them out on Instagram @learnsoftballto or email them at to learn more!

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