By Baseball Softball UK, www.baseballsoftballuk.com
The Sport and Recreation Alliance has presented Jenny Fromer, former Joint CEO of BaseballSoftballUK, with an Emeritus Award for her long-term service to baseball and softball.
The S&RA Emeritus Award has been in existence for over 10 years and is awarded for life-long or sustained service to sport and recreation or for long service to the Sport and Recreation Alliance itself. This year HRH The Earl of Wessex, President of the Alliance, presented the award to Jenny at a small ceremony on 11 July.
Jenny’s involvement with British softball and baseball began in the early 1990s. She was born and grew up in London, but went to America in the mid-1980s for her undergraduate and post-graduate education and worked in the US in film, cinema management and special needs housing, without ever thinking about working in sport.
But shortly after returning to the UK in 1992, Jenny joined a slowpitch softball team called SPAM in the London Advertising League that her father had started two years earlier on behalf of a trade association called the Society of Producers of Advertising Music. Thanks to her organisational skills, Jenny soon found herself running the team – which exists to this day — and getting involved in the structural side of the sport.
At that time, the London Softball Federation (LSF) was to all intents and purposes the National Governing Body for Softball, and Jenny joined its Committee as a General Officer, as well as joining the Greater London Softball Mixed League (GLSML) Committee. After a couple years in these roles she ran for and was elected LSF President and during her tenure introduced some familiar initiatives still incorporated in the sport today, including weekly pick-up games in Regents Park that have evolved into the GLSML Development Sessions and softball equipment and facilitator hire which has now become the BSUK Corporate Offer.
Major League Baseball’s London office approached Jenny in 1998 to run its Roadshow and Play Ball! Leagues on a temporary basis and later offered her a newly-created Game Development role, which enabled her to provide support for the establishment of BSUK in January 2000. In 2002 Jenny moved to BSUK full-time as Director of Baseball, a position that involved running the BBF leagues, and served as a BBF Board member until 2007.
In 2005, when Bob Fromer stepped down as CEO of BSUK, Jenny and John Boyd took on this role in a joint capacity, an arrangement that continued for the next 12 years, with John taking the lead on Development while Jenny oversaw Operations.
It was through her leadership that BSUK developed particularly strong governance systems for an organisation of its size.
In her time at BSUK Jenny also had the opportunity to represent baseball at European Congresses and softball as a member of the British Olympic Association National Committee. She resigned from BSUK in April 2017 before taking up the British Softball Federation presidency.
It is this long and productive career in the sports that the Emeritus award has recognised, and at the awards ceremony Jenny said: “In my years of working in sport I have met so many dedicated and exceptional people that it is humbling to be singled out for this award. I am honoured to receive the Emeritus Award, and grateful that I had the opportunity to contribute to the sports that I love.”
Jenny is known in the sports industry as a huge advocate for equitable and progressive leadership, campaigning for open and fair sports governance and critiquing entrenched, regressive practices. Because of this, she has made significant contributions to shaping the sector’s approach to inclusion, safeguarding and good governance practice.
Among her proudest achievements are being a critical voice in sport for women and working closely with Women in Sport to promote greater equality in sports governance.
Jenny’s governance work at BSUK has made the organisation into a well-respected body which is often held up as a model of good governance and practice. BSUK has consistently been awarded green lights and praise from Sport England for its governance systems and has earned high marks for its work with the Child Protection in Sport Unit and for its Equality and Diversity work.
This has helped BSUK to secure significant public funding, more than double participation in the sports, build a premier baseball and softball sports complex at Farnham Park and raise the profile of both sports through high-quality events.
These have included bringing Major League Baseball and USA Softball players to the UK to take part in youth participation festivals and coaching clinics, as well as running top-quality softball tournaments and a special Softball v Rounders challenge day to showcase the highest female bat-and-ball skills and demonstrate the commonality between the two sports.
Jenny may have stepped down as Joint CEO at BSUK, but she has not left the sports. Instead, she has returned to her volunteer roots and has been elected President of the British Softball Federation, in which role she will continue to contribute to BSUK as a Board member and active supporter.
Jenny said: “I want to help professionalise softball so that I leave it in better shape, and support the critical structural changes I see ahead for the BSF and BSUK, and hopefully the BBF.
“I would also like to increase British Softball’s presence and contribution in Europe,” Jenny added, “and within the World Baseball Softball Confederation.”