Chandler Dare has heard the line before.
It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.
But when 11-year-old Katherine Grill came to Dare seeking special softball coaching and said, “I want to play softball for Alabama,” it wasn’t just some grand statement or pie-in-the-sky goal.
“She was different,” Dare, a former University of Alabama player (2014-17) said of Grill. “You could tell there was a hunger to get better every single day and never settling for anything.”
On Wednesday, Grill fulfilled her goal and signed with the Crimson Tide in a ceremony at American Christian Academy.
“Today has been long-awaited,” Grill said. “I’ve dreamed about going to Alabama for such a long time.”
Grill, a three-time All-State player who plays infield and outfield, led ACA in just about every category last season. She batted .547 with 64 hits, 16 doubles and five triples to go with 23 stolen bases and 59 runs. She was second on the team with 29 RBIs.
“She’s been with the program since the seventh grade,” said ACA softball coach Billy White. “I’ve seen her grow and mature and become a leader. We’re excited to see the next stage.”
Grill said she’s been a Crimson Tide fan since as long as she can remember, and even the times she can’t.
“I went to my first Alabama football game at nine months,” said Grill, who has two uncles who played football for the Crimson Tide under Paul W. “Bear” Bryant and a cousin (Ryan Rhoden) who played baseball at UA from 2004-2007.
“I think I can bring some offensive help and some team spirit and be encouraging to everybody (at Alabama). The team culture they have, it’s like a family. Whenever you go there you feel welcome and everyone is so nice.
“Patrick Murphy (Alabama’s softball coach) is someone that I look up to as a leader and it’s really exciting to be able to go and play for him.”
Grill has attended Alabama softball camps since she was 11 and has played for several travel teams in Alabama and in Florida the past seven years.
“She did all the work that she had to do to make this dream a reality,” said Dare, who also played at ACA and continues work as a softball instructor in Tuscaloosa. “I remember looking into the stands sometimes when I was playing and seeing her in a little Alabama jersey. It’s kind of come full circle to see her live out her dream of being an Alabama softball player.”
Alabama had two other signees Wednesday — Abby Doerr from Eugene, Oregon, and in-state player Jaala Torrence from Dothan.
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2.