Minnesota American Legion to launch fastpitch softball program for girls

Published 5:14 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

Minnesota American Legion Cmdr. Tom Fernlund announced this week that the Minnesota American Legion would offer fastpitch softball for girls in 2022.

Stationed in West Germany in the late 1980s, Fernlund played softball around Europe on an Air Force touring team. These days, Fernlund works for a granite company in St. Cloud.

“Fastpitch softball is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It will be an opportunity to provide an activity for young women in the summer, a time when many communities have baseball for the boys but nothing for the girls.”

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At its Aug. 7 meeting at Royalton Post 137, the Department of Minnesota Executive Committee approved launching a fastpitch softball committee. The new director of the program is Mike Arvidson, 37, a member of the Sons of The American Legion out of Parkers Prairie, where he is deeply in involved in officiating and coaching sports. He owns part of a school bus company, drives a school bus and is a special education teacher.

Arvidson, who championed the softball effort, had been on the Minnesota American Legion Baseball Committee since 2016. He is taking one year away from it to focus on launching the softball program. His experience with what makes the baseball program successful — it is the largest Legion Baseball program in the country — will be useful to launch the softball committee.

“It is my hope that Legion softball in Minnesota becomes as big as Legion baseball,” Arvidson said.

Minnesota is following in the footsteps of the North Carolina American Legion, which fielded a softball program starting in 2018. It had 11 teams its first year and now is beyond 50. A handful of other states sought to launch American Legion softball programs in 2020, but efforts were stalled by the pandemic.

Registration for Minnesota American Legion fastpitch softball will open after Jan. 1.