Local company changing the game for softball players

RIP-IT designs gear for girls

ORLANDO, Fla. – Softball has significantly grown in popularity over the past couple of years, especially in Florida.

This year, the Florida State Seminole softball team won the national championship but for the majority of these players, it's a challenge when it comes to finding pants and protective headgear that will fit just right.

For years, Amy Wilder and her daughter had a hard time shopping for essential softball gear.

"The college women's World Series two years ago, they outranked the National Hockey League playoff games on TV, yet we couldn't go into a store and buy (a) product that was meant for our girls. We usually had to substitute it with products that were designed for boys," Amy Wilder said.

Cayla Wilder, 16, said she's been playing softball since she was 4 years old and finding gear has always been a struggle.

"It was hard to find something that felt meant for you. It always felt a little too big or too small like it wasn't exactly meant for a girl or a woman. Normally if I go into a sports store I get mad 'cause it's just like that small corner of like T-ball gear that you can't really use," Cayla Wilder said. 

It seems that's all changing inside some top sporting goods stores thanks to a local family. Jason and Matthew Polstein are now at the home plate of their father's business, RIP-IT, in which they specializes in making softball gear. 

The idea came about 15 years ago after their younger sister suffered a broken nose because she didn't have a proper face mask. Soon after their dad, who was an engineer, went into his garage and made a special face mask for his daughter. 

At the time, Jason Polstein, who is the CEO of RIP-IT said there weren't many options for girls. 

"All there was available there were baseball masks which were, you know, the opening was really small. This actually has, like, a memory-type foam system in it so when they put it on, they're really, really solid; it doesn't bobble on their head and the face mask is designed in a way that you can see out of it really well," Jason Polstein said. 

The company also came up with pants that have strategic padding on the sides.

"The No. 1 issue players had with softball pants was it didn't fit right, so we went in and brought in a bunch of players and actually designed pants that fit a softball player. We're actually the first person to do a four-way stretch softball pant designed for the female body," Jason Polstein said.

But probably the most revolutionizing product RIP-IT recently launched are sliding shorts that will make sure those monthly visits are a no-show out on the field.

"That's really the big innovation in our new sliding shorts is we've built in period protection to the inside of the short so that now when players are out in the field they can play confidently," Matthew Polstein, president of RIP-IT said.

Amy Wilder said that protection will help provide players with peace of mind.

"They worry about those things and especially when girls are concerned at that age about, you know, being embarrassed, being on display and are in front of people playing. The frustration was immense and it's only getting better with RIP-IT because they have concentrated on getting things in the store that girls need," Amy Wilder said.

Cayla Wilder agreed that having proper gear has helped her on the field.

"When you're playing you feel more comfortable and you're not trying to like wrestle with your belt, to get it through your pants and trying to get your outfit to fit you -- you can just focus on the game," she said.

Matthew Polstein said he and his colleagues feel good knowing that they're helping girls and young women reach their full potential.

"It's really fulfilling, you know, it's one thing to, I think, be a sporting goods company and just make products. It's a whole other thing to be a sporting goods company that's trying to legitimize a sport and help empower these young girls who play the sport of softball. Our mission is to sort of help become that change agent for these young girls and provide better products built specifically for them to really help bolster that confidence," Matthew Polstein said.

For information on where RIP-IT sporting goods are available, visit www.ripit.com.

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