Shirely McLaughlin "Mac" Olsen
Imagine this: You're 10 years old and you've been recruited to play in a women's fastpitch softball game when one of the players in injured. The jersey falls below your knees, and your cousin sticks a glove on your hand. Intimidating? Apparently not for Shirely "Mac" Olsen, who caught a fly ball, threw out a baserunner and had a hit in three at-bats.
That was an auspicious start for Olsen, who would go on to become one of the top women's fastpitch players in Pierce County.
Born June 12, 1936 in Anacortes, WA, "Mac" learned how to play the game while playing with her cousin in Oregon from 1946-49. When her family moved to Tacoma in 1950, she had a head start on a lot of her contemporaries.
While a student at Lincoln High School, Olsen played with Baskett Lumber and the Fuelerettes, and then with Hollywood Boat & Motor. After graduating from Lincoln in 1953, she joined the Air Force and was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. Olsen played on Barksdale's traveling softball and basketball teams for three years, and participated in the Air Force's national fastpitch tournament in 1954.
Upon her return to Tacoma in 1956, she then graduated from the Tacoma School of Nursing in 1957 and after working as a nurse she became a mail carrier until her retirement. Mac then hooked up with the powerful Hollywood Boat & Motor squad.
Fastpitch softball continued to be a major part of Mac's life. She played in Oregon, for a couple of teams in Seattle, and in Port Angeles. In 1971, with the support of the National Association of Blackfoot Indians, she became coach, manager and player for the NABI Blue Embers. In the 1973 regional tournament she earned all-star honors as a utility player, while her daughter Darvee was the all-star third baseman. The two played together for seven seasons.
In addition to a long and outstanding playing career, Mac also became a highly regarded umpire and sports official.
Mac's final playing season came in 1997, more than 50 years after she had started as a 10-year-old with a jersey that was too long.