SPY September 26 Update
LIFE OF SPY
My very creative daughter, Allison, has created a third website, Life of Spy. There are a number of non-softball issues I would like to address, and non-softball stories. The launch has been delayed by my health– the concussion I suffered in Haarlem has affectd my balance, my eyesight, and my ability to focus. More, my primary laptop was infected in the Netherlands — I opened a fake, virus-containing email ostensibly from Interpol (I know the Director quite well).. Had to use a borrowed computer to finish the tournament. Mico Center cleaned the virus ($200) but my PC was disabled by a mdessage purportedly from the FBI also containing a virus. Look for Life of Spy next Tuesday.
Also look for a three-part assessment of Haarlem including editorial comment on Olympic prospects.
NFCA AWARD TO DEANNA GUMPF
Deanna Gumpf Named Inaugural Donna Newberry “Perseverance” Award Winner By The NFCA
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has named University of Notre Dame softball head coach Deanna Gumpf as the recipient of the inaugural Donna Newberry “Perseverance” Award. Gumpf will be formally recognized during the annual NFCA National Convention in Las Vegas this December.
The award was created in honor of longtime Muskingum College coach and 2008 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee Donna Newberry, who died in November 2010 following a battle with breast cancer after compiling a 906-419-1 record over 36 seasons as a head coach. The award recognizes an NFCA member who has demonstrated extraordinary strength of will and character in the fight to overcome a physical, mental or social adversity that presented an additional challenge to the already demanding job of coach.
Gumpf, whose daughter, Tatum, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2010 but has been in remission since the fall of 2012, continued her coaching duties during her daughter’s fight. She did not miss a Notre Dame softball contest during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, leading her teams to a combined 86-27 mark and 2011 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year recognition while also caring for Tatum during her rigorous treatment schedule.
Under the direction of Gumpf, the Notre Dame softball program has emerged as one of the national leaders in the sport in its dedication to community service causes across greater Indiana, particularly in support of pediatric cancer patients. Irish softball has raised more than $105,000 since 2011 through its Strikeout Cancer initiative that has directly assisted children in the state of Indiana battling pediatric cancer. Gumpf was honored by the Alliance of Women Coaches at its “The Bigger Picture of Being A Champion” event this past June, which highlighted coaching legends and leaders in a variety of sports who have contributed away from the playing field.
The softball program has received the Notre Dame Trophy Award, established to recognize a University varsity athletics program that exhibits excellence in community service throughout the academic year, in three of the last four years (2011, 2013, 2014).
Gumpf also participated for the second time in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge in August. The Pan-Mass Challenge raises money for life-saving cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through an annual bike-a-thon that crosses the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and has raised more money than any other charitable cause in the United States.
Newberry, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III history when she left the game, transitioned the Muskies from a slowpitch team to a perennial fastpitch national contender. She helped guide Muskingum to 17 conference championships, 18 NCAA regional appearances, eight national championship appearances and the 2001 Division III national championship.
Newberry was the only Division III coach to be named national coach of the year in two sports — softball and basketball. As Muskingum’s women’s basketball coach, Newberry earned 403 victories and three conference championships. Her 1991 team finished as the national runner-up, falling to St. Thomas in the Division III title game. Over her distinguished career, she also served as an instructor, coach of field hockey and volleyball, women’s athletics director and assistant athletics director.
While undergoing chemotherapy treatments for her third bout with breast cancer in 2010, Newberry led the Muskies to the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament for the 25th consecutive time. In the months before her death, Muskingum dedicated its softball field in her honor, renaming it the Donna J. Newberry Softball Field, and Newberry finished a book about her coaching career and experiences — “You Must Play to Win: A Coach’s Journey from the Pit to the Pinnacle.”
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
A VISIT TO UCLA
On the margins of a trip to Los Angeles to celebrate the first birthday of my grandson Liam Hesse, I journeyed up to Westwood and Easton Stadium to watch the first practiv\ce of the 2015 Bruins, and to visit UCLA’s spectacular new Hall of Fame..There is a John Wooten nexus, but every varsity sport has its nice, including softball. The Bruins have won national championships and those teams and key players are featured. The 2015 pitchers were hitting their marks, led by Ally Carda. 12 I also watched a power-hitting demonstration by Maddy Jelenik. Much appreciated the hospitality by Coach Kelly Inouye and staff. Much of last year’s stellar roster returns; suffice to say, the Bruins will be contenders in 2015.
ASSISTANT COACHES HONORED
Seven Earn Inaugural NFCA Assistant Coach Of The Year Honors
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is pleased to expand its recognition of member coaches with the announcement of its inaugural Assistant Coach of the Year winners.
These awards salute the efforts of coaches from the various NFCA membership categories for their tireless dedication to the sport of softball and to the continued education, growth and development of young women, both on and off the playing field. All seven of this year’s first class of recipients played a pivotal role in their team’s success during the 2013-14 softball season.
NCAA Division I: Jen McIntyre, Boston University
McIntyre, recently hired as the head coach at the University of Connecticut, coordinated recruiting, compliance, academics and strength and conditioning, plus coached the outfielders and offense, as the Terriers’ associate head coach this past year under Kathryn Gleason. Beyond her coaching, McIntyre’s energy and positive attitude helped guide Boston University to 36 wins and school records in four offensive categories. The Terriers captured the Patriot League title in their first season in the conference and advanced to the NCAA Regionals at the University of Arizona.
NCAA Division II: Kayla Lucas, Georgia College
Lucas serves as the recruiting coordinator, strength, pitching and outfield coach, and also helps with the Bobcats’ hitters. The pitching staff’s ERA dropped a full run under her tutelage and the team’s batting average improved 19 points from the previous season. One of the squad’s outfielders earned first team NFCA All-America status and she ran the entire softball program during the first six weeks of the school year with head coach Jamie Grodecki out on maternity leave.
NCAA Division III: Beth Bonuso, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Bonuso just finished her 13th season assisting head coach Brenda Volk, primarily with the outfielders, but also spending countless hours on the team’s mental preparation. She produces creative and entertaining PowerPoint presentations for the team each week and Volk credits that mental preparation as a primary factor in the squad’s never-say-die attitude en route to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championship this past spring. Every player listed Bonuso’s mental game work as one of the positive things they took away from a very successful season.
NAIA: Craig Fletcher, William Carey University
Fletcher has done anything and everything that head coach Wendy Hogue has needed over the past eight years. From field maintenance to batting practice to supervising weight room workouts, Fletcher has regularly arrived early and stayed late. Hogue said he has always set the bar high and demanded nothing but the best from his players —13 of which have earned All-America status during his tenure — while at the same time being a positive role model for the team and his family.
NJCAA Division I: Karina Cannon, Odessa College
Cannon’s responsibilities on head coach Joel Prickett’s staff include pitchers, catchers, outfielders, international recruiting, camp administrator, pitch calling and opponent scouting. She has coached one first team and two second team NJCAA All-America pitchers, an All-Region catcher, a pair of NFCA first team All-Region players (one pitcher and catcher), an NFCA second team All-America catcher and a NFCA third team All-America pitcher.
NJCAA Division II: Carie Dever Boaz, Northwest Mississippi Community College
Dever Boaz helped the Rangers set single-season school records in eight offensive categories in her first season assisting head coach Mike Rowan. She has over 20 years of experience as a coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels and is a well-known clinician and author, with five instructional videos to her credit.
High School: Dawn Dziedzic, Monsignor Donovan (N.J.) Catholic
Dziedzic has assisted head coach Debbie Schwartz with all facets of a school’s softball program for the past 24 years, the first 23 together at Toms River East. On game day, she calls pitches and tracks opposing batters to maximize the team’s attack. She showed loyalty to Schwartz by declining to succeed her as head coach at Toms River — despite Schwartz’s recommendation — because she felt Schwartz was treated unfairly there, and instead moved with Schwartz to Monsignor Donovan.
The winners were nominated by their NFCA member head coach and selected by a panel of their peers on the NFCA Awards Committee. The recipients are all active NFCA members.
MORE WBSC OPTIMISM ABOUT GLOBAL APPEAL
WBSC press release
Netherlands win European baseball title before packed stadium and strong TV audiences, highlighting growing popularity and competitiveness of baseball/softball in Europe in countdown to historic Olympic 2020 decision
- Europe embracing baseball and softball, says WBSC President Fraccari
- Latest World Baseball Rankings released — Five Europeans nations now featured in Top 20
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The Netherlands won the 2014 European Baseball Championship by defeating arch-rival Italy 6-3 in the finale, which was played before a full MBS Stadium in Brno, Czech Republic. The match was broadcast nationally in the Netherlands via NOS and in Italy via Fox2. (See photos.)
The successful European championship involving two of Europe’s leading sporting and Olympic nations — the Netherlands and Italy — follows recent headlines by the BBC, France24 and Russia Beyond the Headlines that the sport of baseball/softball is experiencing a steady rise in popularity and participation levels in Europe, particularly among the youth.
Forty-five matches were contested at the XXXIII European Baseball Championship, which was co-hosted in the cities of Brno and Ostrava, Czech Republic and Regensburg, Germany.
As well as growing popularity, the European and other international championships have highlighted the increasing competitiveness of the European continent and European baseball nations, which is shaping a new world order and a global restructuring of the bat-and-ball sports, according to World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari.
Baseball and softball, along with other sports, are hoping to be eligible for possible Olympic consideration at the Tokyo 2020 Games, pending discussion of a more flexible Olympic sports selection process at the IOC extraordinary session in Monaco in December.
“The growing competitiveness of baseball and softball in new and non-traditional territories, and world regions such as Europe, has been driven by increasing popularity and development of the bat-and-ball sports through well-organised National Federations, professional and youth league partners, grassroots clubs, competitions, coaching, new playing facilities and community interest — which is maximising the appeal of our sport to young people, sponsors and broadcasters,” Fraccari said.
“The expanding global spread of nations performing in final rounds of international championships is showcasing baseball and softball to new domestic and international audiences and generating increasing interest and participation in bat-and-ball sports, especially among young people, and women in Muslim countries. We are very encouraged by the steady progress being made in Africa — and in Europe, the cradle of modern sport, which is now embracing softball and baseball,” he said.
Within the last few years alone, a number of new baseball/softball venues have been born around the world, with historic firsts in Ghana and Uganda, Africa — and in Europe, in places like Brest, Belarus; Essex and Farnham, U.K.; Hoofddorp, Netherlands; Mainz, Germany; Parma, Italy; Sundbyberg, Sweden; and Vác, Hungary.
“Our sport has never been more universal than it is today — across both genders — which highlights the excellent strategic planning and commitment of our National Federations and our global stakeholders to advancing baseball and softball in Europe and around the world, and in attracting young talented athletes to our sport,” Fraccari said.
The wave of growth in Europe recently saw the Confederation of European Baseball celebrate the opening of its new headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia and launching of a new website.
Europe has now surpassed Asia with a total of five nations within the Top 20; Asia currently features four nations among the world’s twenty best, according the latest Official World Baseball Rankings released today by the WBSC, following the results of the European championship.
The Netherlands’ continued success on the international stage, including capturing the world title in 2011 and placing 4th at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, has boosted the Dutch’s ranking to fifth in the world — the highest-ever ranking for a European nation.
The Netherlands is now ranking just behind USA, Japan, Cuba and Chinese Taipei, and ahead of other established powerhouses like Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and South Korea, which make up the Top 10.
The Top 20 also includes Israel’s historic breakthrough to No. 19 — which has generated media attention in Israel (see Jerusalem Post article: “Israel baseball rises to 19th in world rankings”).
No. 22 ranked Great Britain finished 9th in the European Championship and recently inaugurated the U.K’s newest baseball/softball facility in Essex, which will boost further development in the region.
The European championship also followed the first-ever international baseball competition hosted by France, which showcased the new baseball venue in Senart — which lies a short distance from Paris. The international baseball series — which featured Belgium, France, Netherlands and a professional club from Japan — was an unprecedented event in France.
The European Championship ran from 12-21 September and featured the twelve National Teams of Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden.
Italy’s silver at the European showcase locks their ranking at No. 11 in the world and helps better secure their position to be one of the top 12 nations that will qualify for the new flagship event, the Premier 12, which will be launched in November 2015 in Taiwan.
Spain earned the bronze medal in Brno and has risen to No. 16 in the world — Spain’s highest ever ranking.
Co-host Germany placed 5th, behind fellow co-host Czech Republic. The German squad was Europe’s top performer, finishing 9th out of 18 nations, at last month’s high-octane U-15 Baseball World Cup in Mexico, which has elevated Germany to their best-ever world ranking, at No. 17.
The European championship also followed softball’s flagship event, the Women’s Softball World Championship, which was hosted in Europe for the first time in history, in Haarlem, Netherlands last month.
The World Baseball Rankings will be next updated following the Asian Games — Asia’s pinnacle multi-sport spectacle — where baseball and softball are currently being featured on the sports programme together.
(Spy publishes these WBSC reports without edit, but we feel constrained to mention that many of the countries which are featured in baseball do not play competitive softball.)