Mary Hagen spent most of the past week anxiously awaiting the start of her dream of a lifetime.
“My bags are packed, I’m very excited to go,” she said.
Her dream begins Sunday, Aug. 1, when she catches a flight out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport bound for Philadelphia.
There, she will switch planes and settle in for the eight-plus-hour overnight journey to Rome, Italy.
The trip, which has been in the planning for about six months, will allow Hagen — a former Lady Longhorn pitching ace — to play on the American Prospects softball team, which is slated to participate in a series of tournaments in Italy against national and club teams from around the world.
“I just received my uniform, I am No. 15,” she said.
For Hagen to make the 10-day trip, she had to earn $3,800 to pay her expenses.
She spent most of the spring and summer working at Payson’s Organic Café, saving her paychecks to help pay for the journey.
She also received donations, scholarships and sponsorships from supporters around the Rim Country.
When all was said and done, she had almost $4,000. The extra couple hundred bucks turned into a deal maker because she had to come up with the airfare from Phoenix to Philadelphia that she originally thought was included in the trip package price.
Hagen, who graduated in the spring from PHS with the Class of 2010, has not yet met any of her American Prospects teammates, but expects to on Sunday.
“There is a girl going who was from Las Vegas, but just moved to Phoenix and she is on the same flight I am,” she said. “Actually our seats are only a couple of rows apart.”
The pair will hook up with the remainder of the team on the flight to Rome.
From there, the team travels to Tuscany where the tournaments will be played.
While there, Prospect officials and coaches say the team will play five to seven games against “a high level of international competition in an Olympic-style setting.”
As much as the ex-Lady Horn star is looking forward to the competition, she anticipates the adventure to be as much a cultural education as it is a softball tournament.
“I’m anxious to learn more about the country and see everything I can,” she said.
Before leaving, Hagen was already making plans for a “Thank you” to her sponsors and backers.
It will be held 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13 at the Organic Café and includes a free dinner and slide show of pictures Hagen takes while in Italy.
“I can’t wait to get back and share my experiences with the town,” she said. “I want to thank everyone in person.”