If every sport had a John Mills…
Sitting in a baseball league meeting in 2002, or working on the joint Baseball and Softball National Championships in 2005, it would have been a very big leap for me to think of working so closely with a man so steeped in northern baseball and his own club. Then a stalwart of everything northern and everything baseball, today that same man retires from a successful career with BaseballSoftballUK, no less northern and no less a man of baseball, but safe in the knowledge that he has moved on the development of both baseball and softball in this country.
John Mills, one of the founding volunteers of the Halton Baseball Club, had a brief stint on the BBF Board and with GB baseball teams before coming to work for BaseballSoftballUK in April 2007. I couldn't tell you when I first met him -- it was a long time ago, possibly at a BBF AGM in 1998 or 1999. But I do remember his passion for the game, and I remember his son Harry playing catch with then MLB Coach-in-Residence Vince Garcia before a Final 4 game at Brighton, his other son Rob having just played in a North v South Pony All-Star game. John Mills has brought an impeccable baseball pedigree not only to his family but to countless others who have gone through Halton over the years.
When he joined BSUK, John was appointed as one of our two National Development Managers and immediately given the job of sorting out a dated and dusty coach education system. At a very different time for BSUK, he was asked to manage the North and Midlands development staff and took on initial work on club accreditation. Since then, he has built a strong coach education system that has qualified an increasing number of coaches, and he has built a network of coaching course tutors, assessors and internal verifiers. He has also established a strong reputation among staff and the wider baseball and softball community, based on sound principles that put people first. He is a loyal and hard-working person and BSUK will miss having him around.
The organisation has gone through quite dramatic changes in the time that John's been working here. When he joined, we had a minimal on-the-ground presence, with few regional staff, no relationship with Sports Coach UK to speak of and with funding from Sport England much less than it is today. With each change in circumstance - getting more funding, employing more on-the-ground staff, working with Sports Coach UK and more recently with Coaching Support Managers and Sport Structures and delivering a team-focused growth strategy - John has made dramatic adjustments and always found a way to contribute as a senior and respected member of staff.
I'd like to wish John a happy new phase to his life and hope, after a good break, that he will continue to be involved in some form or another in the sports.
'Our Harry', one of John Mills' two sons, pitching for Halton at the 2006 Final 4 in Croydon.
Ahhh… “our ‘arry!”
Big thank you to John for everything he’s done for Baseball in the UK and specially for his work with Halton ans his support to the unfortunately now defunct Northwich Baseball Club. A fantastic teacher, coach and friend!