Spring has sprung

26
Mar

John Walmsley

Slapping on the Factor 30 sunscreen this morning before heading to my club’s field was a good feeling. At Richmond Baseball & Softball Club we turned our Saturday pre-season practise into a field maintenance day. I spent a couple of hours hauling wheelbarrows of redgra dirt across to our two diamonds. A team effort quickly shifted three tonnes, while others in the club weeded, hoed and dug the mounds and base cutouts.

Teams don’t just exist in the fleeting hours of games and tournaments; they exist in practises, and in working off-field for stronger clubs and leagues, and in social settings too. Team building isn’t all about doing BP or fielding drills together; sometimes it’s found in the bond over painting bases or shovelling dirt or spring cleaning an equipment storage container.

After the field work there was still time to spend with some of the club’s rookies, going over playing basics like fielding mechanics and needing to maintain focus in game situations. I really enjoy getting down to hands-on coaching. I spent maybe thirty minutes with one young player working on solid fundamental throwing mechanics and the improvement I saw in them was almost instant; few things in life give immediate feedback or results than sports coaching.

Elsewhere it’s been a busy few weeks for me, and a busy few months since taking on the BSUK Chair role last November. I can’t believe how fast four months have flown by. In the last month I’ve chaired the main board meeting – at which we signed off on BSUK’s new mission and vision that we’ll be announcing formally soon. I’ve also attended committees for finance, development and governance. I had the chance to meet some of our young leaders when I joined part of the BSUK Youth Panel meeting last month. I was enthused by the passion and energy of the group and the ideas they are developing and I look forward to continuing to work with this talented group.

Finally, I had the privilege of seeing the jazz opera Shadowball at the Hackney Empire earlier this month. An initiative of Hackney Music Development Trust it features children from two local primary schools. The backstory is the US major league integration of black players in the 1940s and the preceding Negro Leagues organised by black entrepreneurs and played by some of the best players of all time – Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neill and Jackie Robinson to name but a few. There were also star turns from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Elle Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The children seemed to have a blast and so did the audience packed into the Empire.

In meeting some of the performers and the organisers I realised just what a depth of material and educational value was drawn from the opera. The children were learning history, social issues, music, logistics (one module has them planning seating and ticket prices for the show) plus sport. BSUK’s involvement has been over three years to run baseball lessons in school and help the performers with on-stage movements. This is the third year of Shadowball and appears to be set to remain a regular feature in Hackney schools with plans to extend to other cities in the pipeline. If you have a chance to see it I heartily recommend doing so.

Having gone four months since my first and only blog post, and after reading Liam Carroll’s recent blog on setting goals, I’ll commit here to post blogs at least once a month. I’ve always set goals in baseball and this year is no different. My main sporting goal this year is to learn to play softball and I’ll use the blog to update on my progress.

As ever, I welcome hearing from members of both baseball and softball communities.

tagged under: bsuk board, field maintenance, shadowball, mission statement

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About John Walmsley

John Walmsley

John is chair of BSUK (effective at the 2011 AGM in November), a non-executive directorship of BaseballSoftballUK Ltd. He is a past-secretary of the British Baseball Federation (2007-09) and past-president at Richmond Baseball and Softball Club (2006-10), in Surrey. John enjoys coaching and developing people, both in sport and in business. John and his partner Robyn split their time between Surrey and Lancashire. John is an executive with a global consulting and technology company, where he focuses on the commercial management of large-scale engagements.

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