It’s an intense John Burroughs High School varsity softball game. Catcher, Rachel Little, is engaged in the game, watching the field where her teammates are ready and in position. Their cleats are pressed into the field’s dirt, mitts up and ready, waiting for Little to call the pitch and end the inning. In the stands are parents, classmates, and a 10-year-old girl named Skylar Celli-Recht, holding a handmade “Go #2 Rachel” sign and cheering on her favorite player.
Skylar Celli-Recht is a fourth grader at McKinley Elementary school. She loves to play basketball and volleyball, but playing softball holds a special place in her heart. While at the park one day, Skylar and her family saw her brother’s PE teacher coaching the JBHS Varsity Softball team and decided to check out the practice.
Skylar was enamored by the high school girls and how competitive and fast they were compared to the team she was on. At the end of the practice Skylar took a photo with the whole team and soon began attending their practices on a regular basis. It was then that player, Rachel Little, caught her eye. “Rachel was always talking and telling everyone on her team where to go, what plays are happening and helping them out,” said Celli-Recht who immediately felt a connection with Little and admired her competitiveness and love of the game.
Little started playing softball at the age of five and basketball at eight. She describes herself as quiet and doesn’t like to draw much attention to herself, but that all changes when she steps into the game. “Something really competitive kicks in when I get on the court or on the field. I love my sports, my teams and competing and I guess it shows,” says Little. “It is just so much fun!”
During one of Little’s softball games, she noticed Celli-Recht in the stands holding a decorated sign that she had made with Little’s name and number on it. “I absolutely loved it. The only way we can grow our sport is with fans like her,” said Little. After the game the two met and Little shared with Skylar that she plays basketball for JBHS as well. It wasn’t long before Skylar and her family were there at Little’s basketball games cheering her on from the sidelines, and even recently travelled to Glendale to watch Little play there too.
“Rachel really inspired Skylar to want to play sports in school,” said Skylar’s mother, Emily Gordan-Recht, who explains how it opened up her daughter’s eyes to these girls who were getting good grades and juggling two varsity sports teams. “It inspired Skylar to watch competitive softball on TV and now she wants to play softball in college. It’s an exciting thing as a parent. Here is this local high school girl and she is inspiring our 10-year-old to want to play sports in college. That’s just super cool.”
A few months ago Skylar crafted a Perler bead JBHS bear with a number 2 jersey for Little as a gift and brought it to one of the games for her. Little reciprocated the gesture by gifting Skylar with a JBHS jersey and basketball jacket, touching Skylar’s family with Little’s kindness and generosity.
Little will be attending college and playing softball this fall at Utica University in New York and majoring in Sports Management. “She is a great kid and I am really enjoying getting to know her,” says Little. Before she leaves for college Skylar hopes to have Little attend some of her sports games and make some time to play catch together, and plan to keep in touch.
The relationship between Little and Celli-Recht can only be described as special, and a reminder that your role model doesn’t have to be from TV or social media, but can be just a ball toss away.