Laura Vermilya showed an interest in sports at a young age. In kindergarten
she was playing football with the neighborhood boys, and for
Christmas that year, she received a Cleveland Browns uniform – complete
with helmet and shoulder pads. By age six, she had decided upon
her future career – a professional baseball player for the Cleveland Indians.
Her parents did not have the heart to tell her that was not possible
due to her gender.
At age eight, Laura began playing fast-pitch softball in Polk. As a
youth Laura played summer softball at Polk, Nankin, and Ashland. Excelling
in this sport she was elected to her first All-Star game at age eleven.
In middle and junior high school Laura participated in basketball and
At Ashland High School, Laura earned four varsity letters in softball.
Her achievements include back-to-back Cardinal Conference MVP
honors her junior and senior years. Her junior year she was awarded the
team’s RBI leader. As a senior, Laura was elected the team’s Most Valuable
Player and led the team in hitting.
Laura’s proudest moment came when she was selected to the First
Team All-State in softball in 1986 – the first year the Ohio High School
Athletic Association selected All-State players for girls fast pitch softball.
After four seasons, Laura left AHS in 1986 holding five season records
and four career records in softball including most runs and most
Laura attended Baldwin-Wallace College where she earned three varsity
letters in softball and All-Academic honors as a junior. While at
B-W, Laura also participated in the inaugural season of varsity soccer for
women. She earned two varsity letters in the sport and was awarded Best
Defensive player as a sophomore, even though she had not played soccer
prior to attending B-W.
Laura’s life-long dream of being a Cleveland Indians almost came
true. In 1989 Laura was selected to be one of nine ball girls for the Cleveland
Indians. As a ball girl Laura fielded foul balls down the baseline or
worked behind home plate keeping the umpire supplied with baseballs.
During her two years with the Tribe, Laura met Indians players and
other major leaguers, as well as two Hollywood stars, Corbin Bernsen
and Charlie Sheen, who were filming the movie Major League.
After college, Laura made the transition to slo-pitch softball and continued
playing another 16 years on several women’s and co-ed teams.
Highlights during this period include winning the Cleveland City Women’s
C League and several Columbus Co-ed Championships. In 1992, Laura
was asked by the Brecksville softball commissioner to coach fast pitch
for girls twelve and under. Laura coached two years before moving to
Columbus. She then went on to coach soccer for girls age ten and under
and for Special Olympics co-ed soccer.
During her twenties and thirties, Laura continued participating
in team sports, including coed softball, soccer, and volleyball. She has
participated on numerous Corporate Challenge teams, charity 5Ks, golf
scrambles and bicycle events. Today, Laura remains active lifting weights,
cycling, spinning, golfing, hiking, and walking her two dogs. This past
June, Laura participated in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, a week
long, 300 mile bicycle tour of Ohio.
Having graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1990, Laura
earned her Certified Public Accountant license in 1992, while working
for Ernst & Young in Cleveland. In 1993, Laura moved to Columbus where
she worked at Limited Brands headquarters for ten years in Finance and
Information Technology. She is currently the Director of Operations for
the American Ceramic Society. She lives in Columbus with her partner
Michelle Hockman. Laura makes frequent trips to Ashland to visit her
family, including her eight nieces and nephews.
Nominator: Donald Vermilya