2018 Coach and Volunteer award winners named at BSUK Coach Summit

Tue 30 Jan 2018

BaseballSoftballUK’s third annual Coach Summit, held on Saturday 27 January at the Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes, concluded with an evening ceremony at which Coach and Volunteer awards for 2017 were presented.

A large crowd – most of the 83 people who attended the Coach Summit – was on hand for the presentations, designed to recognise the hard work and expertise of coaches and volunteers in the British baseball and softball communities.

Twenty-four people had been shortlisted across seven different categories, and the results were as follows.



This award is given to the coach aged 22 or younger deemed to have made the biggest contribution to coaching, managing and supporting baseball and/or softball in Britain in 2018. 

The winner was Will Zucker.

Since arriving at Durham University, Will has worked tirelessly to establish the university’s baseball club, working with both international and UK students.  The club entered two teams in the National University Baseball Championship in its first season before winning the title in at the Autumn 2016 event.  Will, who has represented Great Britain Baseball as a junior player, was instrumental in recruiting 30 new players last year for the Durham University Baseball Club by through his dedicated and engaged coaching.

Others shortlisted were Dan Patterson of the University of Reading Softball Club and Sian Wigington, a young member of the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team player pool who served as an Assistant Coach for the GB Under-16 Girls Fastpitch Team in 2017 and also helped coach and organize a new team in the Great Britain Fastpitch League.



This award is given for an outstanding contribution to coaching young people in baseball in Britain.

The winner was Chris Stevenson.

Chris led the Brighton Baseball Club Minors to the National Championship title in 2017, developing his players’ skills and love for baseball through his Kids Positive Coaching Code.  His enthusiasm and knowledge as Head Coach enabled him to develop both individual skills and team cohesion through effective and interactive coaching sessions.

Others shortlisted were Drew Spencer from the London Mets Baseball Club and Jeff Whitworth, Coaching Coordinator for the London Youth Baseball League.



This award is given for an outstanding contribution to coaching young people in softball in Britain.

The winner was David Morris.

David has been instrumental in developing youth fastpitch softball at the Chichester Falcons Softball Club.  He has inspired and enthused many young players to develop their skills, running training sessions and organising tournaments for them to play in, as well as taking local players to play in the Great Britain Fastpitch League at Farnham Park.  David has also ensured the development of his own coaching knowledge by attending the first European Softball Coaches Association Camp in October 2017 in the Netherlands.

Others shortlisted were Mark Saunders & Lewis Chapman, who have built up a large softball programme at Archway School in Stroud; Julie Spittle, long-time coach and manager with the GB Under-13 Girls Fastpitch Team; and mother and daughter Joss and Laura Thompson for their work with their local team, the Towcester Tigers, and as Assistant Coaches with the GB Under-16 Girls Fastpitch Team.



This award is given for an outstanding contribution to adult baseball coaching in Britain.

The winner was Paul Rance.

Northants Baseball Club has gone from strength to strength over recent years with Paul as club President.  Last year, however, with the growth of the club’s committee and the success of its facility development project, Paul was able to step back from some of the club administration and dedicate more time to coaching.  This led to the Centurions winning the Single-A Central Division title and qualifying for the National Baseball Championships for the first time.  Paul has also been extremely committed to his own personal development as a coach, completing his Level 2 qualification and attending a number of CPD clinics.

Others shortlisted were James Moran from the Birmingham Bandits Baseball Club and Jonathon Cramman, who led the London Mets to the National Baseball League title in his first full season as Team Manager.



This award is given for an outstanding contribution to adult softball coaching in Britain.

The winner was Great Britain Women’s Fastpitch Team Head Coach Rachael Watkeys.

Through hard work and excellent leadership, Rachael successfully coached the GB Women’s Team to the bronze medal at the European Women’s Championship in 2017 in Italy, enabling the team to qualify for the 2018 WBSC Women’s World Championship in Japan.  That same summer, she also served as Head Coach for the GB Under-19 Women’s Team at the WBSC Junior World Championship in Florida, where the team was very competitive against some of the world’s best teams.

Others shortlisted were Eric Lukazewski from the Reading Blue Sox Softball Club and Nigel Peters, who coaches, manages, administers and plays for the Misfits Softball Club in the East Midlands League.



This award is given to a volunteer in a non-coaching role who has given up a substantial amount of time to support their local club, team or league and who has made a significant impact on the development of our sports. 

The winner was GB Women’s Fastpitch Team Manager Simon Mortimer.

Simon has been Team Manager for the GB Women’s Team since 2016 and before that filled the same role with the GB Under-19 Women’s Team, and his planning and communication skills have been exceptional.   Simon also acts as Treasurer for the Great Britain Management Committee, and has overseen the development of a programme to supply high-quality uniforms and team clothing to all GB Softball National Teams.

Others shortlisted were Bruce Alan, Chair of the fast-growing Urmston Softball Club in Manchester, and David Wareham, who has been active in the Manchester Softball League in various roles for the past 20 years.



This award is presented to an individual who best personifies what it means to be a baseball or softball coach: someone who understands their sport and has used the lessons learned on the pitch to motivate and engage others over a significant period of time. 

The winner was Paul Vernon.

Paul was given the award for 20+ years of coaching baseball and softball at all levels in the UK.  Although originally focused on baseball with Bracknell and Great Britain, Paul has dedicated himself in recent years to the Bracknell Scorchers Softball Club.  His approach to coaching has always been grounded in fairness, honesty, self-improvement and fun.  Paul has a love for both sports and a genuine ability to communicate this to anyone he works with.  Paul has also contributed to baseball and softball more broadly. He has worked with both MLB and BSUK, has served on the BBF Board, and has been seen as a voice of reason in the sports for the decades during which he has touched the lives of many players and coaches.

Paul received a standing ovation as he walked up to collect his richly-deserved award.

Others shortlisted were David Lee, who has been involved as a player and coach for many years with the Bristol Softball League and the GB Slowpitch Team programme, and Ryan Turtill, an inspirational figure within the London Mets Baseball and Softball Club.

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