BSF stages busy but efficient AGM Day in Bushey

Mon 25 Feb 2019

The British Softball Federation’s 2019 AGM packed a lot of discussion and activity into a few short hours on Saturday 23 February at the Police Sports Club in Bushey, Hertfordshire, and still managed to finish early.

The day included the annual meeting of the BSF League Heads Forum (postponed from November 2018), a Skype webinar on concussion in softball by a leading Canadian physical therapist, a session by BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd on the upcoming London Series and a new slowpitch coaching initiative, the formal AGM itself and then the presentation of BSF awards for the 2018 season.

Just under 50 people attended the afternoon AGM (and most of those were present for the concussion webinar that preceded it), while 22 people from leagues around the country were present for the morning’s League Heads Forum.

The fact that some issues were discussed during the League Heads Forum undoubtedly saved time when these issues were raised again at the AGM, and the BSF Executive will consider – and will survey League Heads – on whether the two meetings should be held together in future.

 

LEAGUE HEADS FORUM

As always, the League Heads Forum was an opportunity for constructive discussion between Slowpitch League Heads and members of the BSF Executive, and a number of topics were covered.


Affiliation Fees

There were no major concerns with the new fee structure for affiliated teams, which, as previously announced on the BSF website, has been simplified for 2019, with 10 fee categories condensed to four.  Some fees have gone up, others down and some have stayed the same, but the overall effect will be to produce slightly more revenue.  The full fee schedule can be seen here.

Questions raised were around the grandfathering of fees for teams currently in the former four-year progression to full fees, and the large jump from Years 2 to 3 for new teams in the new fee structure.  However, it was generally agreed that it made sense to hold fees down for the first couple of years while teams get established.

There were, however, questions about how the money from affiliation fees is spent.


How is the BSF’s income spent? 

The general answer to this question is in the Accounts and Budget presented on Page 24 in the 2019 AGM Pack.  However, Jenny Fromer unpicked some of these figures further, especially the amount spent to support national teams, and there was a request from the meeting for figures showing the total cost of national team attendance at ESF or WBSC competitions compared to what the BSF puts in.  These figures will be circulated to League Heads shortly.

There was a clarification that Civil Liability Insurance is provided through team fees while Accident and Injury insurance remains an optional extra.  However, the BSF has engaged new insurers this year, and accident and injury cover for leagues that opt in will be cheaper than in the past but with better coverage.


NSL National Championships

Lesley Morisetti told the meeting that the Nationals for NSL 1 and NSL 2 will be run as in 2018, with one-up, one-down between the divisions and two teams dropped from the bottom of NSL 2 based on league season results.

However, attempts to get NSL 3 league play off the ground for this season, while initially looking promising, have been scuppered by a number of teams withdrawing.  So NSL 3 play will again be via a 12-team National Championship tournament to be played in Manchester on the weekend of 31 August-1 September, with the two finalists being promoted to NSL 2 for 2020.

Discussion suggested that the problem with NSL 3 league play may have been the need for teams to commit to additional tournaments beyond those they normally play, and the question was raised as to whether NSL 3 league games could be staged, like NSL 1 and NSL 2, at Diamond tournaments.  The BSF will raise this with Diamond Series organisers.

Meanwhile, there is now another year to work out the best way to run NSL 3 league play and to get commitment from teams.


League National Championships

This year, the League Nationals will be open to all qualified teams, and the question of whether there will be a Platinum Division along with Gold, Silver and Bronze will be decided based on entries.  The BSF plans to webstream final games from the League Nationals for the first time.

There was some discussion about how strong teams could be stopped from winding up in an unsuitable division on Day 2 and winning it, but the consensus was that round-robin play on Day 1 usually put teams in appropriate divisions for Sunday.

There was a suggestion that the BSF should survey teams that qualify for the League Nationals but don’t attend to find out why.

Another suggestion was that the League Nationals should alternate between Farnham Park and a venue in the Midlands or the North to distribute travel burdens more fairly.


Single-Sex Nationals

This year, Fiona Keilthy will be organizing the Single-Sex Nationals (as well as the League Nationals), leaving Liz Graham to concentrate on running the NSL and NSL Nationals as well as her role as BSF Membership Officer.  The Single-Sex Nationals will again be in Birmingham, and half of the eight diamonds will be fenced, with men’s and women’s teams scheduled equally on these fields.

A question was raised about whether US Air Force men’s teams should still be allowed to enter the tournament, as they tend to overwhelm our domestic teams and may put some teams off entering.  The Executive will consider this and reach a decision shortly.


BSF website upgrade

At last year’s AGM, Jenny Fromer had said that there would be a new look to the BSF website for the 2019 season, but this will not be the case. 

Work on upgrading the website is under way, but it will be a more complicated project than first thought, in part because the BSF website shares a platform with the BSUK site, and the two sites are several versions behind on this platform.  The BSF site will be cloned to see what happens when the latest version of the platform is installed, but if this is successful, then visual changes to the site should be able to follow quickly.


Coaching

Over the past few years, money has been ring-fenced by the BSF to spend on slowpitch coaching projects but has rarely been spent.  So the meeting was asked what kinds of coaching projects players might want.  Answers included:

  • Masterclass player clinic sessions run in conjunction with local leagues for up to 20 players paying a small fee.
  • Indoor taster sessions with good coaches as a recruitment tool.
  • More BSUK three-hour modular courses offered to leagues (which can apply for BSF Development grants to help support the cost).

Mike Jennings pointed out that the BSF’s initiative for B and C-grade teams, where a team receives a day’s coaching and then game management support at a subsequent tournament or league game was still on offer, paid for by the BSF, even though take-up over the last few years has been thin. 


BSF Development Grants

Take-up of BSF Development Grants has also been less than expected in recent years, which is why the BSF has put less money in this particular pot in this year’s budget.  These grants, which are generally capped at £250 but can be more, are open to leagues, clubs, teams and occasionally individuals, and are generally given for projects involving new or existing youth programmes, coaching or umpire development and clinics or initiatives to recruit new teams and players -- although other types of projects, including facility enhancement, can be considered. 

Projects most likely to receive grant awards will be those with specified and measurable outcomes, clear plans for achieving them and detailed costings -- and where the BSF is not the sole source of funding.

Suggestions from League Heads were that the lack of take-up may sometimes be because there is no one to drive a project through, and because there was a perception that the grants were largely to do with youth initiatives.  It was also suggested that there should be better coordination between the BSF and BaseballSoftballUK about what kinds of development support could be made available.

The BSF will revise the Development Grant application form to make criteria clearer, and will make the form more readily available, working closely with leagues.


Points from the BASU AGM

The 2019 BASU AGM was held on 9 February in Bristol, and a number of points emerged that will be of interest to League Heads and tournament organisers:

  • BASU believes that qualified First Aid is essential at tournaments, and if no First Aider is present the BASU Crew Chief can stand down the umpires.  First Aid can be provided by a player, but only if First Aid is their priority during the tournament.
     
  • BASU would like a statement included in all Tournament Packs about players who may be unsafe to play because of alcohol or drugs.  Umpires will first warn, then eject any player who they think may be a danger to themselves or others.
     
  • BASU has asked the BSF to only include sanctioned tournaments – tournaments that meet BSF criteria with regard to safety and other provisions – in the Events listing on the BSF website.  However, BASU umpires can be engaged to umpire at unsanctioned tournaments and can wear BASU uniform when doing so to maintain authority.

BASU Training Officer Chris Moon posed a question to the meeting: how can BASU help leagues to develop and maintain umpires – especially when fewer leagues seem to be hosting courses?


Indoor Softball

More and more Indoor tournaments are being held around the country, with very different rules.  Neena Patel from the Windsor and Maidenhead League wanted to know if the BSF could harmonise the rules, while recognizing that they are often venue-dependent. 

The BSF will look at the possibility of doing this, perhaps on an Indoor Facebook page as well as posting on the BSF website.

 

CONCUSSION WEBINAR

Following the League Heads Forum and then a lunch break, the formal BSF AGM was preceded by an hour-long webinar on concussion in softball presented via Skype from Canada by Jessica Mancini, a former high-level college softball player who holds an MSc in Physical Therapy and treats outpatients with orthopaedic problems in the Toronto area as well as continuing to coach softball and promote education on concussion management.

The webinar was a condensed version of a session that Jessica had delivered to GB National Team staff members at a meeting organised by the GB Management Committee (GBMC) late last year.

Concussion has become an increasingly important topic in sport, and while it may be less of a problem in softball than in so-called contact sports such as rugby, American football, ice hockey and others, concussions can still occur in fastpitch or slowpitch softball and it’s useful for people to understand the causes, symptoms and treatment.

Jessica’s presentation covered three main topics:

  • What is concussion and how can it occur?
  • How is concussion identified?
  • Treatment and return-to-play protocols.

One of the key points that Jessica made is that while concussion is usually associated with blows to the head, it frequently occurs when force or impact is applied to other parts of the body and results in recoil or whiplash effects to the head and neck.

Whenever a concussion is suspected after an incident on the field, Jessica said, the player involved should be removed from the game for an initial assessment.  Even if that proves negative and the player returns to the field, they should be monitored closely for the rest of the game as the onset of symptoms can sometimes be delayed.

Following discussion of the different ways in which symptoms can manifest and the different body systems that can be affected, Jessica described a widely-used six-step process for return to play once a concussion has been medically confirmed.

Anyone interested in more detail can contact the BSF (info@britishsoftball.org), which can provide the slides from Jessica’s presentation.

The BSF Executive will survey those who attended the AGM to see if this kind of session as part of the AGM Day was regarded as useful.

 

MATTERS ARISING

The formal AGM session was opened by BSF President Jenny Fromer, who welcomed those in attendance and then referenced a number of “matters arising” from the 2018 AGM held a year earlier in Manchester.  These included:

  • A decision by the Executive to hold new BSF Hall of Fame inductions every three years rather than every other year.  This will create more time to identify appropriate candidates and will also mean that Hall of Fame inductions will alternate between AGMs held in the North and the South.
     
  • At the 2018 AGM, Jenny had reported that the possibility of a merger between the BSF, the BBF and the BSUK had receded due to the BBF’s unwillingness to proceed with the idea, even though the Boards of all three organisations had approved it.  Now, Jenny reported, the prospect of the merger happening was even more remote, though an upcoming Strategic Review by BSUK might change the landscape.
     
  • Over several years before 2018, the BSF had created plans to invest money in various enhancements to the sport, but had failed to carry them out, resulting in annual operating surpluses.  In 2018, however, as Jenny had set out in her President’s Report in the AGM Pack, the BSF had spent most (though not all) of the money it intended to spend, much of it on enhancing National Championships, including webstreaming.
     
  • At the 2018 AGM and subsequently, the BSF had put out calls for volunteers to help with various roles and projects because of a lack of capacity among a small volunteer Executive Board.  That call had been partially answered, Jenny said, with capable people coming forward to help with running the League and Single-Sex Nationals, BSF website re-development, the Softball World Series and liaison with BSUK over the development of softball in universities.
     
  • The post of National Teams Officer (and Chair of the GB Management Committee) had remained vacant during 2018 for lack of a candidate, but Jenny told the meeting that Alexis Markham-Hill had volunteered to stand for the position and so the post would be filled at the conclusion of the AGM.
     
  • Jenny also referenced the fact that Jo Malisani, whose position as a Fastpitch Development Manager was jointly financed by the BSF and BaseballSoftballUK, had resigned her position in December after almost three years in post, though she remains active as a coach and volunteer with GB Softball.  The intention is to re-fill the position, but not until the middle of this year.
     
  • Finally, Jenny suggested to the meeting that as all candidates for the BSF Executive were unopposed, there was probably no need for a formal voting process, and the members agreed by a show of hands. 

At this point, before completing the rest of the AGM agenda, Jenny invited BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd to give a presentation.

 

BASEBALLSOFTBALLUK SESSION

John began by briefly covering the following topics:

  • The BSF and BBF have delegated a number of responsibilities to BSUK, mainly to do with development, and have assigned to BSUK the right to represent the sports to Sport England, UK Sport and the British Olympic Association.  If BSF and BBF members are in doubt as to whether to go to BSUK or to their Federation over a particular matter, they can ask by contacting their Federation or by emailing info@bsuk.com.
     
  • John noted the unfortunate decision, announced on 21 February, that baseball and softball will not be retained on the Olympic programme for Paris in 2024, though the sports are likely to be returned when the Games are held in Los Angeles in 2028.  This means that many talented athletes will lose the chance the represent their country on the Olympic stage in 2024 and gives an even sharper focus to the quest by the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team and the GB Baseball Team to qualify for Tokyo later this year.
     
  • John offered an invitation to all of those at the AGM, most of whom are team captains and/or members of league committees, to sign up to receive The Clubhouse, an e-newsletter published every two months by BSUK and designed for club and league administrators.  People can sign up to receive The Clubhouse and other BSUK publications here.  

The main part of John Boyd’s presentation centered on two topics: the potential benefits for baseball and softball in the UK from the upcoming ‘London Series’, the games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox scheduled for 29-30 June at the London Stadium, and a new coaching venture aimed at slowpitch players: a BSUK Slowpitch Softball Academy.


The London Series

The London Series, John told the meeting, could potentially have a bigger impact on baseball and softball in the UK than the Olympics – but only if Major League Baseball ensures that there is a legacy from the event and a connection to the local playing community.

BaseballSoftballUK is working with Major League Baseball on a legacy plan that could lead to the creation of new baseball and fastpitch softball Little Leagues, schools programmes, and an MLB 60 corporate adult slowpitch programme.

In addition, there are plans for a new LGBT softball event in London, an event at Walton-on-Thames where the first recorded instance of baseball took place in the 18th century, and baseball and softball youth camps.

There will be a call for volunteers from the local playing community to help at the London Series, and BSUK is also planning to run MLB-themed slowpitch tournaments during the early part of the season and a watch party for the London Series games at Farnham Park.  


Slowpitch Academy

Plans by BaseballSoftballUK to create a Slowpitch Softball Academy this year were unveiled for the first time at the AGM. 

Designed for slowpitch players who want to get better, the Slowpitch Academy will feature expert coaching to prepare players for game play, using the same tools and methods as the existing baseball and fastpitch Academies.

The first Slowpitch Academy sessions will be on 27 April and 4 May in West London, with further dates to be announced, including sessions in Bristol and Manchester.  The Slowpitch Academy is aimed primarily at adults.  There will be a cost to attend Slowpitch Academy sessions, as there is for the baseball and fastpitch Academies.  More details can be found here.

 

THE AGM

When the AGM resumed, Jenny Fromer summarised a key element in her President’s Report: that the BSF Executive, as a volunteer Board, had serious capacity issues in accomplishing everything it needed and wanted to do, and was planning to buy in a small amount of administrative support in 2019 as a first step towards a future goal of more extensive paid administration.

Bob Fromer, who is reducing his role at BaseballSoftballUK from April, had been asked to take on this admin role for the BSF, and the result should be better and more efficient communication and better monitoring of BSF programmes and initiatives.

Jenny also told the meeting that while she had initially intended to serve (if elected) for three two-year terms, the limit allowed by the BSF Constitution, the second term that she was now starting would be her last due to the pressure of balancing the role with a full-time job, and succession planning will begin shortly.

Jenny then summarised for those at the AGM the topics that had been covered earlier at the League Heads Forum session, after which the rest of the AGM was completed quickly:


Accounts and Budget

The 2017-18 accounts and the 2018-19 budget were approved by the meeting.  Having achieved an overspend of £17,700 in 2017-18, about £6000 less than planned, the BSF is planning another overspend against income of around £10,700 in 2018-19, which will still leave reserves in a healthy position.

This overspend will come mainly on additional webstreaming (from the League Nationals as well as the NSL Nationals) and the paid admin support mentioned above.


Umpiring

Chris Moon stressed that BASU was always looking for new tournament umpires (42% of all tournament games called by BASU last year were by just 10 umpires).  BASU will be sending a recruitment flyer to leagues.

Chris also announced a change in BASU courses.  The standard two-day course will still be the way that umpires get qualified, but after an umpire has sat this course on three occasions, subsequent re-qualification will be via a one-day course that will focus on scenarios rather than rules.  The hope is that leagues will also be interested in this course and will run two-day and one-day courses in alternate years.

In answer to a question, Chris told the meeting that a stand-alone Slowpitch Rulebook is available to download from the World Baseball Softball Confederation website, and the BSF might consider binding it and offering the Rulebook for sale.


LGBT Panel

Luis Arrevillagas, who chairs BaseballSoftballUK’s LGBT Panel, was unable to attend the meeting, but Jenny Fromer read the statement below from Luis on the Panel’s work and progress.  

The Panel was formed in 2017 and currently has six members.  The purpose of the Panel is to set the strategy for BaseballSoftballUK’s LGBT work and to monitor and evaluate BSUK’s effectiveness in delivering this strategy.  In addition, the Panel helps to draft relevant policy and will formally engage more people from the baseball and softball communities in the development of the sports for LGBT participants. 

Accomplishments to date include:

  • We have worked on Inclusive rules for Slowpitch which can be found on the LGBT page on the BSUK website.  All LGBT tournaments are using these rules.
     
  • The Greater Manchester Mayor has for the first time appointed an LGBT adviser: Carl Austin-Behan.
     
  • Sport England's new Senior Equality and Diversity Manager, Jamie Hooper, is thrilled that baseball and softball are the only sports with agreed targets on increasing LGBT participation.
     
  • Lyndsey Bygrave, an LGBT Panel member, has been working on a document for the panel titled 'A guide to including trans and gender non-conforming people in baseball and softball'.
     
  • We ran the popular LGBT softball tournament in Manchester last summer for the fourth time, which has doubled in size since 2015.  In 2018, 12 teams participated and one of our new Panel members, Joe Burns, came all the way from Scotland to umpire.  We'll be running the fifth LGBT Tournament in Manchester on 1 June 2019.  Entries are already being accepted: contact luis.arrevillagas@bsuk.com for info.
     
  • The London Raiders continue to turn heads at Pride in London and, with the support of BSUK Development Manager Patrick Knock, attended Trans Pride Brighton.
     
  • BSUK is planning a London LBGT+ Annual Softball Challenge that will begin in 2019.
     
  • Finally, we're also looking for more people to join the Panel -- everyone is welcome!


Motions and Proposals

No motions or proposals were submitted to the AGM either by members or by the BSF Executive.


Elections

As noted above, there was no formal voting process for candidates standing for the BSF Executive, as all were unopposed.  All of the following were elected for two-year terms except as noted below, with the first four Officers also serving as Directors of BSF Ltd:

President:  Jenny Fromer
Treasurer:   Laura Burkhardt
Competitions Officer:  Liz Graham
National Teams Officer:  Alexis Markham-Hill

General Officer/Farnham Park Liaison:  Steve Getraer
General Officer/Finance:  Mike Jennings
General Officer/National Championship Support:  Lesley Morisetti
General Officer/National Teams Support:  Stella Ackrell
General Officer/National Teams and GBMC Support:  Jana McCaskill*

* Jana is serving the second year of a two-year term in 2018-19 and was not up for election.

The position of General Officer/Coaching remains vacant, and anyone interested should contact the BSF via info@britishsoftball.org.


Any Other Business

Mike Jennings, who serves as the European Softball Federation’s Technical Commissioner, told the meeting that the World Baseball Softball Confederation now has bat regulations that are slightly different from the ESF’s, and this could come into play for GB Slowpitch Team players in 2020 when the WBSC will hopefully be holding a Slowpitch World Cup for national teams.  Any such players planning to buy new bats would be advised to check that they are WBSC-approved.

 

BSF ANNUAL AWARDS

At the end of the AGM, the BSF’s annual awards for 2018 were presented.  Each year, awards are made in categories where nominations have been received, and this time they went to the following people:


The Glover Cup for long-term service to softball was shared by Liam Morrison and David Morris.

Liam Morrison has tirelessly recruited and encouraged new players to come to the Softball 101 beginner sessions that he runs as the Development Officer for the Greater London Softball Mixed League, as well as contributing time and effort to finding coaches, equipment and resources for these sessions.  He has also committed a significant amount of his time, not just to running the sessions, but to following up with the new teams that have emerged from them and maintaining a network of teams and coaches who all support each other.

David Morris volunteers across an increasing number of areas.  He manages the Chichester Falcons Softball Club in the Solent League, a club that has founded a junior fastpitch section that David also runs, and he organises an annual fastpitch tournament in Chichester which has grown in scope year on year.  In addition, David serves on the Great Britain Fastpitch League Committee and manages the GBFL website.  In 2018 he was a key volunteer at the successful London Cup international fastpitch tournament.  Locally, David also delivers softball to people with disabilities in coordination with local community services.  All in all, he has quietly made an enormous contribution to the softball landscape and has genuinely increased opportunities to participate in the sport.


The President’s Club Award to a club or team that has achieved significant success in terms of development and/or results went to the London Raiders Softball Club.

The London Raiders have been going strong for over 20 years, growing from a single team to a club that, at one point, fielded six teams in two London leagues.  At its heart, the club has been a home for players identifying as LGBT to come together over softball and has since grown to welcome people who identify as non-binary and straight.  The club has participated in most London Pride marches and sent teams to the Gay Games around the world, including those in Sydney in 2002 and Montreal in 2006.  Today, five Raiders’ teams compete in the GLSML's Minor and Major divisions.

The Raiders have also taken an active role in driving equality in softball through participation on BaseballSoftballUK's LGBT Advisory Panel, formed in 2017, one of whose key outputs was launching inclusive playing guidelines in 2018.

With a strong ethos on developing new players, creating a year-round social environment and championing tolerance and acceptance at all times, the London Raiders are a worthy recipient of this year's BSF President's Club Award.


The League Glover Cup, awarded for significant innovation or development by a BSF league, was given to the Greater London Softball Mixed League (GLSML).

With 53 teams across seven divisions and with home fields across the city, the Greater London Softball Mixed League is one of the flagship co-ed softball leagues in the UK.  Founded in or around 1982, the GLSML is not only one of the longest-running leagues in the country but has championed and implemented innovative ideas as the sport has evolved.  Run by a representative committee of 15 volunteer officers (many of whom run their own teams), the league has continued to grow and progress in terms of both membership and social responsibility.

In addition to its 14-game league schedule, the GLSML organises two one-day tournaments during the season for league teams: the Firstball (usually in May or June) and the Lastball (usually in August).  Unlike many leagues that play their games at a centralised location every week, the GLSML organises a whole host of events throughout the season to increase inclusion, player and umpire development and social opportunities.  Along with organising post-tourney and post-season parties, other events include their New Players Day aimed at connecting new and experienced players to teams in need, the long-running GLSML All-Star Day that features nominated players for a North v South series of games, numerous BASU umpire training courses, and the popular ‘Softball 101’ development nights where beginners can learn to play the game in a safe and confidence-building environment.

Under the leadership of Kat McCann for the past four years, the GLSML has been one of the most engaged leagues in the country across the full spectrum of the sport and aims to continue developing the league for the inclusion and enjoyment of its members.


The Tournament of the Year award went to a tournament that made its debut in 2018, the Codebreakers Cup organised and run by the Milton Keynes Softball League.

The Radcliffe School in Milton Keynes was the venue for the first-ever Codebreakers Cup in 2018.

Three Milton Keynes teams were joined by nine others from around the country to compete for the Colossus Trophy.  The tournament had a strong Bletchley Park theme, with pitches named ‘Station X’, ‘BP’ and ‘Room 47,’ all codenames for the nearby home of the World War II codebreakers at Bletchley Park, and payers and spectators were entertained by classic wartime music as teams arrived.

Teams were split into three groups to compete for the Colossus Trophy, and those that didn’t qualify played for the Bombe and Enigma titles.  Everything was co-ordinated from Hut 14 and a special codebreaking quiz proved popular as teams tried to emulate local hero Alan Turing.  As well as a trophy, the winning team took home a keg of local Colossus craft ale.  All fields were fully-fenced and a Facebook event ran throughout the day with up-to-date results.

This was the first-ever tournament held by a league in Milton Keynes, and with places filled in under a week, teams keen to enter the 2019 version, scheduled for 28 September, should move fast.  Well done to the Milton Keynes Softball League for adding an innovative tournament to the calendar.


The Youth Team of the Year award went to the GB Under-13 Girls’ Fastpitch Team.

Under Head Coach Jodie Rushin and Manager Julie Spittle plus Assistant Coaches Nadya Pavlova and Eylsee Laporte, the GB Under-13 Girls played at the ESF’s annual Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy competition in Italy as the London Cubs and had their best-ever result since this competition began in 2012.

Finishing fifth in the much tougher Sport Division (previously the team had competed in the Futures Division) was an impressive achievement.  Wins over teams from Russia, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands showed the progress that the GB Under-13 programme has made and is a tribute to hard work and enthusiasm and the bond between players and staff.


The Betsy Holden Award for outstanding achievement in softball organization or development by a young person was given to Jessica Vernon.

Jess Vernon has been playing baseball and softball (slowpitch and fastpitch) for only a short time: her first softball tournament was in October 2015 and she played baseball and fastpitch for the first time in 2016.

However, she quickly demonstrated a desire to use her former experience as a cheerleading coach in her new sports, and for two seasons has assisted with practices, coaching both the adult softball and baseball teams at Bracknell Baseball and Softball Club.  She has also challenged herself as a player and learned a lot as a coach by signing up to the High Performance Academy, playing as much as she can and attending the BSUK Coach Summit in both 2018 and 2019.

In 2018, Jess successfully re-established a youth programme at the club, encouraging volunteers to visit schools and school fayres with her for taster sessions and to assist with coaching at the sessions she ran at the club for young players.  She also arranged for players to travel to the BSUK youth event at the London Cup in July.  Jess was also effectively the adult softball team’s head coach, planning and running sessions almost every week, and she also delivered practice sessions for the club’s baseball squad.

In short, Jess has demonstrated a high level of commitment to her chosen sports and her own personal development as a coach.


Coaching Awards

Softball coaching awards used to be part of the BSF’s annual awards presentation, but are now made at the BaseballSoftballUK Coach Summit in January.

Coaching awards made at the 2019 Coach Summit to members of the softball community were:

Young Coach of the Year:  Dan Patterson
Softball Youth Coach of the Year:  Alexis Markham-Hill
Softball Adult Coach of the Year:  Ryan Turtill
Services to Coaching:  Joss Thompson
Volunteer of the Year:  Kim Hannessen

Details on achievements by these award winners (and others who were nominated for the awards) can found here.

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