Why Do Florida Softball Wear Sunflowers? (Touching Story)
If you have ever watched a Florida Gators’ softball game, you have probably noticed the yellow flowers the players wear. This forces you to wonder why, as no other team wears flowers of any kind. When I first heard the story, I was very touched and am still to this day.
Florida Gators softball team wear yellow sunflowers on their hair because of Heather Braswell. Heather was a teenager with brain cancer that inspired and touched the Florida softball team so deeply that after her passing in 2014, they have worn yellow flowers every game for children’s cancer awareness.
Suppose you weren’t familiar with the why you must be surprised by the depth of the flower’s meaning. So, who was Heather, and why did she touch the team so deeply that they have worn yellow flowers for years in addition to other tributes that I’ll get to shortly. Let’s find out!
Who Was Heather Braswell
Heather Braswell was a regular child that got devastating news in early 2008 only at the age of 11 that no child should have. A diagnosis with brain cancer.
In the next year, 2009, she became an honorary Florida Gator due to an organization called Friends of Jacklyn, a non-profit organization devoted to improving the life quality of children battling with brain tumors and other cancers. They often pair children with sports teams, and Heather was introduced to the Florida Gators.
As she was first introduced to the Gators, she felt like she belonged, a sense of fellowship, you could call it. This impacted the Gator’s players, coaches, staff, and fans as she was described as a shy child. But no, when she was out with the Gators, she was energetic and happy! It’s safe to say that the Friends of Jacklyn was successful!
The Gators welcomed Heather to their dugout. She has a personal locker in the Gator’s locker room to this day. They texted, called, and gifted Twizzlers to her (her favorite candies). Her initials are etched on the field, and Heather even threw the opening pitch on the field weeks before she died.
What can you conclude from this? That Heather was a beautiful spirit that touched the Florida Gators and the Florida people as a whole.
Unfortunately, Heather died in 2014 as the cancer was too strong. To quote Floridas own Bailey Castro’s beautiful words about Heather in one interview with People Magazine.;
When Heather first came here, it was definitely so she could look up to us, but in the past year and a half, she became our role model. She changed our lives.”
Did you know that the Florida Gator’s won the national title that year? Many players were baffled about it as they were certain that Heather was with them as she sure was!
Heather’s impact on the team is something that anyone who feels lost and has dealt a poor set of cards can admire and rely on. Heather proved that even when you have the worst luck in the world, you can rejoice in the time that has been given and live with a joyful spirit on your chest. Just think about the impact of that.
How Does Heather’s Legacy Live On Today?
Heather certainly is far from forgotten in the modern-day world, and her memory still shows in many ways. Please take a look at some ways that her memory lives on. The last is the best part if you ask me.
- Every Saturday that the Florida Gators’ softball team takes the field, the big, yellow sunflowers are visible to all watching. They are playing for a bigger cause than just softball. They are playing for children’s cancer awareness.
- Heather’s locker is also inside the Gators’ locker room, and according to Delanie Gourley ”Gators will never take it down as she touched them so much, and that she is always part of the team”.
- Twizzlers are a big part of the Gators’ dugout to this date. Twizzlers were the favorite candy of Heathers, and it has stuck with them.
- Combining the flowers, publicity, and everything else has raised an incredible amount of cancer awareness and hope. This includes cancer patients, their families, friends, fans, and you name it. Heather’s memory increased the awareness and it has certainly helped thousands of people by providing hope and joy to their lives.
To get a deeper understanding of the heater’s memory, look at the game between Florida vs. Georgia softball game in May 2021. I have started the video where the golden flower is clearly visible!
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.