Annual awards presented at 2018 BSF AGM

Wed 28 Feb 2018

The BSF gives out annual awards each year in categories where nominations have been received, and the following awards were presented at a ceremony at the 2018 BSF AGM:
 

Glover Cup:
Ross Smart

The Glover Cup is presented for outstanding long-term services to softball by an administrator or organiser.

Ross Smart has been instrumental in taking the Meteors Softball Club forward over the past few seasons, including leading the Meteors’ entry in the London Indoor League and creating the NSL2 team The Naturals.

He identified and secured a new venue for the Meteors, which also provided other GLSML teams with a home facility, and he provided the latest GLSML development team with a club to join for the 2018 season.

Ross has taken the lead in organising Spring Training sessions for all the Meteors teams and in creating hitting and positional coaching sessions for the club.  He was also behind the design and procurement of uniforms and apparel for the Meteors and Naturals, and provides graphic design consultation for both Great Britain Baseball and BaseballSoftballUK.

One player commented, “Ross knows pretty much everyone in the British softball community, and he excels in coaching and mentoring newcomers.  He has a forward-thinking mentality when it comes to the growth and development of individuals, clubs and the BSF -- a strategic thinker with a holistic approach to everything to do with softball.”

 

President’s Club Award:
Secret Agents MI6 (for competitive achievement) and Urmston Rippers (for development)

The President’s Club Award is presented for outstanding performance or development by an affiliated club or team.

MI6 has been in the highest division of the GLSML since 2010 and has worked their way up the league table. They won the league in 2016, then followed that up with dominant performances in 2017 in league games and tournaments, including winning the GLSML Majors First Division and the GLSML FirstBall Tournament and winning the GLSML Majors Best Offense and Best Defense awards.

They didn't enter the GLSML LastBall and so missed out on the clean sweep!

The GLSML also has a 'Fair Play' award which is voted on by players in an end-of-season survey.  Respondents are asked to nominate a team they've played against who they think best exemplifies the spirit of softball.  Usually, lots of votes go to teams at the bottom of division tables, but MI6 have received a large number of votes over the past two seasons, showing that in addition to playing fantastic softball they also have a strong team spirit and really positive attitudes, no doubt thanks to the leadership of Gelske Huyer and Duncan Waugh.

The Urmston Rippers were established in the summer of 2015 on the back of a Sportivate programme run by BSUK staff in the North West region.  A couple of volunteers became hooked and decided to form a local team.  Now, less than three years later, the Urmston Rippers can be very proud of:

  • Having their own venue in partnership with a local sports club, where they benefit from space for two diamonds, changing facilities, indoor facilities and a bar.
     
  • Having a junior section for children aged 7-12, the Ripper Nippers.
     
  • Having two teams rostered in the Manchester Softball League.
     
  • Having three teams rostered in the Manchester Indoor Softball League.
     
  • Having competed and performed well (plus having lots of fun!) at many tournaments.
     
  • Having a solid Committee and being financially healthy.
     
  • Having great vision – and now looking at starting a local spring league to bring the sport to people closer to home.

 

League Glover Cup:
Milton Keynes Softball League

The League Glover Cup is presented for outstanding development achievement by an affiliated BSF league.  

Launched in May 2016, the Milton Keynes Softball league has always aimed to be one of the friendliest around, offering current members and prospective players the chance to get a taste of regular competition in and around the town.

The league was formed from the MK Diamonds Softball Club and started with four teams -- three from the club itself and one from a nearby fastpitch club, the Towcester Tigers.  After a successful first year, and with the introduction of an indoor league during the winter, the league then grew to seven teams in 2017 with the addition of another Milton Keynes team plus teams from local baseball clubs in Northants and Herts.  With numbers continuing to grow, league organisers are excited to see what 2018 has in store and whether anyone can beat the two-time champions Homerun Hornets!

The Milton Keynes Softball League prides itself on being welcoming to beginners, because they know how nerve-wracking taking up a new sport can be.  This is why the league offers weekly coaching sessions for players at all ability levels and has even adapted some league rules to make the game more inclusive and fun for everyone involved.

 

Tournament of the Year:
East Midlands Labor Day Tournament​

The Tournament of the Year Award is presented to a tournament that demonstrates outstanding innovation or service to teams and players.

East Midlands Labor Day Tournament organiser Kayleigh Green has said:

I took over the running of the tournament six or seven years ago and I love doing it!  We have gone from being an eight-team tournament to last year having 32 teams, with every pitch fenced.  We are lucky to have the tournament at the University of Leicester, where the grounds are brilliant and they offer us accommodation.  Obviously, there is always a party -- and the food is fantastic!

We try to keep the tournament fun, including for both recreational and competitive teams.  We allow NSL players to play with their local teams and just ask that teams don’t overload and respect the recreational level of the tournament.  We have now split into two competitions, tailoring for all levels of play, and I work closely with UIC to keep the tournament running smoothly, with radios for communication between pitches.

We try to keep costs down and pride ourselves on offering the best possible tournament at as little cost to the teams as we can.  We design a schedule to give teams as many games as possible over the weekend – sometimes nine or 10 -- to ensure value for money, with all teams playing an hour on and an hour off.  Winners of each competition win Labor Day T-shirts and winners and runners-up all go home with a prize.

Each year we fundraise for charity, last year raising £1200 for the East Midlands Air Ambulance Service to help fund a new children’s helicopter.  We do this with sponsorship from Mike at The Softball Shop, who kindly donates top prizes.

 

Umpire of the Year:
Andrew Breadman​

The Umpire of the Year Award is presented for outstanding performance by a BASU umpire.

Andrew Breadman first qualified as a BASU umpire in 2012 and sat the BASU Slowpitch Advanced Course in 2014.

He umpired 54 games in 2017, both fastpitch and slowpitch.  As someone new to fastpitch umpiring, Andrew attended several Great Britain Fastpitch League playing days and was very keen to learn, continuously asking questions to improve his knowledge and practical skills while working and communicating well with players and coaches.

BASU Training Officer Chris Moon said, “Andrew has always been a pleasure to work with and is always a popular addition to any BASU umpiring crew.”

 

Youth Team of the Year:
Archway School (Stroud)​

The Youth Team of the Year Award is presented for outstanding performance or development achievement by a team consisting of youth players.

Archway School in Stroud, Gloucestershire had a breakout start to their 2017 softball season with the help of a Sport England Small Grant, and is developing a model that other schools around the country could follow.

Lewis Chapman, who has been Head of Physical Education at the school since 2013, was quick to see the potential that softball had for engaging otherwise non-sporty students in a summer sport, and he introduced it in games lessons.  Since then, softball has taken off and has become a regular activity for students at all levels of ability.

Currently, the school holds every District and County title at each age group in the Sainsbury’s Gloucestershire School Games.  But what was missing was the opportunity for students to develop and play softball at a higher level outside the school environment, and that came about with a chance meeting between Lewis and ex-GB Slowpitch Team Head Coach and player Mark Saunders.  Between them, the idea of an Archway School Softball Academy was born.

Work started over the winter of 2016-17 to put a structure in place for the Archway Academy, including applying for funding and exploring the possibilities of an Academy team competing in the adult Bristol Softball League.

Twenty-four pupils were invited to join the Academy and funding via a Sport England Small Grant, plus a private donation, allowed the idea to blossom.  The Archway Softball Academy entered a team in the Bristol Softball League Division 3 at the beginning of the 2017 season and wound up winning the division title.

Work has now started on expanding participation across all age groups from Years 8-13.  Another 30 pupils have begun attending after-school training sessions, and the plan is to fully incorporate them with the established Academy players.

Meanwhile, Lunch Club participation has pupils queuing up to be involved in the indoor version of the game, and coaching that the Academy students have received is now being passed on to younger pupils through these lunchtime sessions.  The hope is to expand these sessions further as the weather improves.

The aim is not only to increase participation in softball for current pupils, but to give students who leave the school good core skills, a firm grounding in softball and a clear pathway in the sport all the way up to national team level.

 

Betsy Holden Award:
Sian Wigington​

The Betsy Holden Award is presented for outstanding achievement by a young person in developing or promoting the sport.

Sian Wigington has come up through all the GB age group teams as a player and is currently a member of the GB Senior Women’s Team player pool, but she has now widened her engagement with the sport.

In 2017, Sian raised her hand to put together a new team, The Mix, to compete in the Great Britain Fastpitch League, and she asked to join the coaching staff for the GB Under-16 Girls Fastpitch Team as a way to grow and develop her knowledge of the game. 

In her first season with The Mix as a player-coach, Sian helped guide the team to first place in the GBFL Women’s Division, which qualified them for the 2018 European Women’s Cup tournament.  As a member of the GB Under-16 staff, she was responsible for team strategies, scouting and charting, and contributed to line-up decisions, practice planning and pitch sequencing.  Her efforts were instrumental in the team’s fifth-place finish at the European Cadette Championship, and Sian clearly has a bright future ahead of her as a coach.

Sian also works as a BaseballSoftballUK Facilitator/Activator, helping to run corporate softball events in the London and South East regions, umpiring and coaching for school leagues at Farnham Park and taking on school outreach programmes in Slough, Ascot, and Bracknell.  She also helps the Thames Valley Softball Club with their youth programme on Sunday mornings.

Sian has been a member of the BaseballSoftballUK Academy and High Performance Academy for five years as a player, and over the last two years has served as a mentor to the younger athletes.  As a part of the HPA programme and as one of the top softball athletes in Britain, Sian has received a SportsAid award each of the past two years.

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