by British Softball Federation
A mid-winter tryout and training camp will be held at the WBSC Softball Division headquarters complex in Plant City, Florida from 8-12 January involving over 40 athletes from four GB female fastpitch softball teams.
Those attending the camp, one of the largest projects ever run by the GB Softball programme, will be trialing for either the GB Women, GB Under-22, GB Under-18 or GB Under-16 Teams, and a few players will be trialing for the GB Under-13s.
Because many players are trialing for more than one team, there will be up to 30 players trialing for the GB Women, 22 players trialing for the Under-22s, 15 players trialing for the Under-18s and 11 players trialing for the Under-16s, with three trialing for the Under-13s.
Eight coaches from the staff of the four teams involved will be in attendance to run and observe four-and-a-half days of testing, drills, classroom sessions and scrimmages, including against local junior college and travel ball teams, and one Team Manager and two physios from GB Teams are also making the trip to look after the players and support testing and strength and conditioning work.
The camp comes during a crucial year for the GB Softball programme – a year in which the GB Senior Women’s Team will be trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. To do so, the team will need to finish in the top six in the European Women’s Championship to be played from 30 June-6 July in the Czech Republic, then win a Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifying tournament expected to be held later in July somewhere in Europe.
Meanwhile, both the GB Under-18 and Under-16 Women’s Teams are expected to compete in European Championships this year, while the GB Under-22 Women’s Team, which does not have a European Championship in 2019, is expected to compete in the Elite Division at the prestigious Canada Cup, also during July.
The mid-winter camp in Florida will not only give coaches the chance to work with and assess players before 2019 GB Teams are selected, but will help the GB Softball programme as a whole to develop an overall philosophy while giving players and coaches from different age group teams a chance to meet, work together and bond.
Players and staff will arrive in Plant City on Monday 7 January, and the first day of the camp at the WBSC complex, on Tuesday 8 January, will begin with registration, welcome and introductions and will then be concerned mainly with athletic, fitness and positional testing.
After dinner at the hotel where staff and athletes are staying, there will be staff presentations on the GB National Teams ethos and culture, the year ahead, and players’ expectations of wearing the Great Britain name across their chest, as well as technical and tactical topics.
The second day of the camp, on Wednesday 9 January, will focus on hitting, with intra-squad scrimmage games in the afternoon and more staff presentations on technical and tactical topics in the evening.
On Thursday 10 January, the focus will be mainly on defensive work for infielders, outfielders, pitchers and catchers, followed by offensive and defensive scenarios.
On Friday 11 January, after offensive and defensive work in the morning, GB Blue and Red Teams will play scrimmage games in the late afternoon against Plant City-based Hillsborough Community College.
Finally, on Saturday morning 12 January, GB Blue and Red Teams will play simultaneous scrimmage games against teams from the Clearwater Bullets travel ball organisation.
A lot of people have put in time and effort to make this camp happen, for which the BSF and GB Softball are very grateful.
GB national team staff who have been able to arrange time off work to attend the camp include Head Coach Rachael Watkeys, Assistant Coach Liz Knight and Pitching Coach Tina Whitlock from the GB Women’s Team; Head Coach Jo Malisani, Pitching Coach Windy Thees, Team Manager Whitney Hollis and Physio Edwin Lam from the GB Under-22 Women’s Team; Assistant Coach Russ Snow and Physio Sarah Cormack from the GB Under-18 Women’s Team; and Assistant Coaches Joss and Laura Thompson from the GB Under-16 Women’s Team. Tina Whitlock also served as the GB Under-19 Pitching Coach last summer and Jo Malisani is also the Head Coach for the GB Under-16s.
Jo Malisani, shown below has done the major work in designing the camp programme, and Jo and Whitney Hollis have done most of the camp organisation after initial work by GB Management Committee member Bob Fromer. GB Women’s Team Manager Simon Mortimer has helped to work on camp finances.
Support has also come from outside the GB programme, including from World Baseball Softball Federation (WBSC) Competitions Director Laurie Gouthro, who has made the fields available at the organisation’s Plant City complex and also helped with equipment provision and arranging the scrimmage games with Hillsborough Community College.
Further help with equipment has come from former GB Women’s Team Head Coach Bobby Simpson and from Softball Excellence Director Cindy Bristow and local Florida coach Linda Derk, who also helped to set up the scrimmage games with the Clearwater Bullets.