Softball: Majam family bonds over love of diamond

Mari Majam (right) and her three sisters all play softball and all have or will play college softball. Allison Majam (bottom) graduated from Colorado State in 2010, Kelly Majam (top) just finished her senior season at Hawaii and Grayce Majam verbally committed to the University of Mississippi, which she will attend beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

Sources: Ralph Omoto, Colorado State Athletics, Daily file photo by Meghan White

Mari Majam (right) and her three sisters all play softball and all have or will play college softball. Allison Majam (bottom) graduated from Colorado State in 2010, Kelly Majam (top) just finished her senior season at Hawaii and Grayce Majam verbally committed to the University of Mississippi, which she will attend beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

Josh Walfish, Sports Editor

Mari Majam was born to play softball.

Her parents were both stars on the diamond, her father a college baseball player and her mother a softball ace. The Majams even met playing softball.

So it should be no surprise all four Majam sisters would go on to excel in athletics. The sisters — who hail from Pine Valley, Calif. — are eight years apart from the oldest to the youngest, and all of them have played or eventually will play softball in college.

Allison Majam is the eldest of the four sisters and therefore the first to start playing softball. She said she felt like she had to be an inspiration for her sisters at first but quickly realized they would be just fine on their own.

“It was such a family thing that we would all go to the ballpark,” Allison said. “In some ways, I felt like I needed to be a role model or someone for them to look up to, but they proved themselves right away that they could do it.”

The sisters eventually took their talents to Division I, where their story strays from the norm. When all the dust settles, the Majams will have sent four girls to four different schools.

Allison went to Colorado State, where she is fourth in school history with 130 RBIs after graduating in 2010. Kelly is a senior at Hawaii and led the NCAA with 30 home runs as a freshman. Mari is a junior at Northwestern and was named a 2013 first-team All-Big Ten honoree. And the youngest sister, Grayce, has verbally committed to University of Mississippi, where she will begin her career during the 2014-15 season.

Allison admitted she wanted her sisters to follow her to Fort Collins, Colo., but she said she gets why they decided to go in a different direction.

“I totally understood how they wanted to make their own mark on the program,” Allison said. “They didn’t want to have to live in a shadow, and I wouldn’t want them to feel like they had to, either.”

Grayce, the last to commit from the family, said she thought about playing at Colorado State, Hawaii or NU but realized none would be a good fit.

“When I really thought about where I wanted to spend four more years of my life, I wanted to make my own name instead of having to follow in my sister’s path,” Grayce said.

Sisterly love

All four sisters are thankful they will never have to face each other on the softball field in their college careers. Although it would be interesting to play against one another, Mari said she would worry about the emotional toll on their parents.

However, that does not mean the sisters are not competitive on occasion.

“It comes out every once and a while when we’re playing games,” Mari said. “We were never competitive where we would get angry with each other, which was a blessing.”

The love among the sisters could not have been more evident than this weekend. Although NU missed the NCAA Tournament, Mari flew to Seattle to watch Kelly play in the Seattle Regional. Hawaii went 2-2 and lost to Washington in the regional final. To make the heart yearn a bit more, Minnesota, a team NU beat two out of three times this season, was in the regional.

Mari said she was not afraid to give her sister a scouting report, and it evidently worked as Hawaii beat Minnesota twice in the regional.

“She didn’t want to talk to me right away because she knew it was kind of a heartbreaker for us not making it,” Mari said. “I extended my hand first and told her what I knew. It will be tough, but I gave her some hints.”

Mari is the first in her family to attend a school without a team from California in its conference. Colorado State plays in the Mountain West, which includes San Diego State, and Hawaii plays in the Big West, which includes Pacific. Despite its recent expansion, the Big Ten has not added a California school, which means the Majams have fewer opportunities to watch Mari play each season than Allison or Kelly.

However, Mari said she gets a surprise visit from her mother and Allison for one series each year in Evanston, and her dad made the trip to Austin, Texas, last season to watch the NCAA Regionals. She said although it is nice to see her family during the Cats’ annual trips out west for tournaments in February and early March, it is difficult for her later in the season.

“They do get to see me play, maybe not as close to home, which for me sometimes is a bummer, but it’s also a lot of fun playing out here,” Mari said.

The sisters rarely have time to talk with one another on the phone, but the entire family uses technology to stay in touch. The girls text a lot, and about once a month the entire family is able to get together for a video chat session. The timing may be difficult to nail down because of the five-hour difference between Mari in Evanston and Kelly in Honolulu, but Mari said she likes feeling at home for a short time.

“They’re really helpful,” Mari said. “It gives you a little slice of home when you need it, which has always been a comfort and a blessing to have in your back pocket when you need it.”

It all works out

Kelly said one of the biggest advantages to having a sister playing competitive softball is she always has someone at home to push her. The past couple of winters, Mari and Kelly have teamed up to motivate each other for the upcoming softball season.

The Majams have plenty of options to help them get the workout in, whether it’s the garage at home or with Grayce’s travel team. However, nothing beats having a friendly face to push them to work harder.

“Just having that accountability has been really helpful, even though we’re on different programs,” Mari said. “This summer will be tougher. Hopefully I’ll get Grayce or Allison to do some stuff with me.”

Back home they were lumped together as the Majam sisters, but each has been able to distinguish herself from the other three.

“I am very proud of my sisters and the way we have developed as individuals,” Kelly said. “A lot of the time at home, we get clustered as the Majam girls and not really seen as individuals. It’s exciting for us to have a name for ourselves in four different states.”

The bond between the sisters has grown stronger, and in hindsight, Allison said it was great Majam sisters wanted to make a name for themselves.

“Having us go to different schools has been a blessing,” Allison said, “being that we get to leave our mark on four different programs and leave our mark all around the country, that we can be individuals on the team and also support each other from far away.”