Welcome to Marysville Ladies! We are so excited have you in town for the weekend, honoring former coach and founding member of Heart of Ohio Softball, Shelia Kitchen. Use this page to discover great places to eat, unique shopping, and fun side trips between your games. Be sure to stop by our welcome center, Union Station 1820 in historic Uptown Marysville to find even more to explore. Have fun and let's play ball!
Shelia Kitchen Memorial
May 21-23, 2021
Tournament Ball Fields
The Shelia Kitchen Story
Since 2007, Heart of Ohio Fast Pitch Softball, a USA/ASA softball organization, has been honoring beloved founding member and coach Shelia Kitchen, through their kickoff tournament in May. Every year, softball teams throughout Ohio gather in Marysville for this fantastic tournament sharing their love of softball.
Shelia Kitchen, a native of Marysville, established her family roots in Magnetic Springs with her husband Jack, son Ken and daughter Michelle. She had dedicated her life to her kids, driving the school bus to spend more time with them as they attended class and sports. Known for being an excellent driver, when the snowstorms hit, parents wanted their kids to be on her bus, knowing they would be in good hands. She had a heart of gold and a fun-loving attitude that made people feel accepted and cared for.
Shelia began coaching girls’ softball in 1978 after her daughter Michelle began to play at the age of 7. She was able to be Michelle’s coach all throughout the summer seasons, keeping her promise to always be there for her kids. Her coaching style was focused on a strong bond with her team, building players up by encouraging them to do better, and most importantly, reminding them to have fun! By the early 1980’s Shelia had helped to build the Magnetic Springs and Richwood Softball Associations with multiple teams in each age bracket. Shelia’s teams had begun to gain the reputation as the ones to beat throughout the state.
In the off-season, she kept the books for the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams, became involved with the Special Olympics, and spent time with her family, bowling and traveling. An annual co-ed tournament for “Old Timers” began in the late 1980s that helped raise funds for the local softball programs. In 1987, Heart of Ohio Fast Pitch Softball was officially founded by Sheila, Bill Franke, and Pat Mudgett, blazing a trail for girls who wanted to play, be a part of a supportive community, and learn what sports(wo)manship was all about. Although starting the Heart of Ohio program was challenging at first, the organization recruited excellent coaches, scouted fresh talent, and began hosting annual tournaments. After winning their first state tournament, girls from all over Ohio wanted to play for the Heart of Ohio organization. Even after retirement, Shelia still traveled to games just to visit the girls and coaches, riding in her own golf cart to get around. Her grandchildren, Anson and Ashley James were the love of her life, often traveling to their games and school events, taking them to school and on bus rides, and having lunch together.
When planning to send Michelle to school, times were often tight, and her father had to empty his pension just to send her to school. This memory stayed with Shelia as she recognized that members of her own team may also have been struggling to make ends meet when planning for higher education. In 2001 the Heart of Ohio founded a scholarship program as a way to offer support for families for their daughters’ education which would help with school materials including books. Shelia was able to award a few scholarships to those well-deserving players, establishing a program that continues to this day, awarding several each year. After her passing, the May tournament was officially changed to the Shelia Kitchen Memorial in 2007, honoring a compassionate coach, active community member, and loving mother and grandmother. Her legacy will live on through Heart of Ohio, the opportunities the program offers for girls and her family. Her daughter Michelle, now grown with a family of her own, still stops by the tournament to catch up with friends and take in her favorite past-time, showing her support for the organization and girls that play, the community her mother loved, and the sport that brings so many together.