BSUK’s Academy and High Performance Academy have best season yet

Wed 26 Apr 2017


The 2016-2017 Academy and High Performance Academy training season has been BSUK’s best season yet, with growth and improvements taking place in both programmes.

The Academy programme has had increased participation overall, with softball adding a Regional Midlands/North Academy to national sessions in Coventry and regional sessions in Slough. 

Meanwhile, the HPA programme expanded to include a more robust sport science offering, including the addition of a mental performance coach and nutritionist as well as weekly Facebook Live sessions to support the athletes.


The latest Academy training season was launched on Saturday 1 October 2016 at Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex under rainy skies.  The morning kicked off with Academy Director Will Lintern addressing both the Baseball and Softball Academy athletes about the ethos of the Academy and the goal for the 2016-2017 season to #MaximiseYourPotential, followed by opening statements from Liam Carroll, Head Coach of the baseball programme and Robbie Robison, Head Coach of the softball programme. 

As the clouds gave way to sunny skies, and with a record number of Academy participants, the athletes took to the field and worked through various skill development stations throughout the day!

As in previous years, the Baseball Academy had National Academy sessions as well as Regional Academy sessions in the South and North of the country.  The Baseball Academy offering included 10 practice dates: six National Academy days in Coventry at the Alan Higgs Centre, and four practices each at Langley Academy in Slough for the Southern Regional Academy and at the Powerleague Trafford Sportsdome in Manchester for the Northern Regional Academy.

Softball, in addition to its National Academy Sessions in Coventry at the Alan Higgs Centre and the Southern Regional Academy sessions at Langley Academy, expanded its regional Academy offering to the Midlands and the North, with two sessions in Loughborough at Charnwood College and two sessions in Manchester at the Powerleague Trafford Sportsdome.

Increased participation numbers was accompanied by the addition of more volunteer coaches at Academy sessions.  One of the biggest names in the Great Britain baseball community, former GB National Team player and BBF Hall of Famer Gavin Marshall was one of several several club coaches on the baseball side who supported GB coaches Will Lintern, Liam Carroll, Zach Graefser and Cam McHarg in delivering Academy sessions.

On the softball side, former GB Women’s Team Softball standout and BSF Hall of Famer Laura Thompson joined Joss Thompson, Alexis Markham-Hill, Chris Yoxall, Ian Tomlin, Paul Cooper, Lee Grafton, David Morris and Andrea Williams to support GB coaches Jo Malisani, Robbie Robison and Rachael Watkeys.

High Performance Academy​

This year BSUK worked with several partners who helped make the Academy and High Performance Academy programmes possible.  These partnerships allowed enhancements to the HPA programme, including a mental performance coach, a nutritionist, additional equipment and a player feedback app, as well as National HPA training days that brought both the baseball and softball programmes together in one place for the athletes to train and undergo testing by sport science specialists.

Partnership support was provided by the Clifton Road Games Company, Osborne Stationers and SportUpside.

With the help of our sponsors, partners and donors, BSUK was able to increase the number of contact days with athletes, not only from a sport-specific (baseball/softball) context but also in terms of more regular strength and conditioning time and mental performance time.

The Softball HPA season kicked off on 2 October 2016 at Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex with a day of trials.  Athletes were tested on various sport-specific skills, including baserunning, fielding, pitching, throwing and hitting.

The Baseball HPA season also kicked off in early October with trials at Farnham Park, where athletes were put through their paces with various skills and drills testing their athletic and baseball abilities.

On 23 October the successful trialists for the HPA Baseball and Softball programmes opened up the 2016-2017 HPA training season with an athlete-and-parent introduction session in the morning, followed by strength and conditioning tests and skills work in the afternoon.  At the introduction session, HPA Director Will Lintern talked to the athletes and parents about the programme’s ethos, the goals and expectations for the winter and what would be involved in this year’s programme.

Will then introduced the sport science, baseball and softball coaching staffs:

Sport Science Staff:
Alan Dean
Dr Andrew Friesen
Rebecca Jennings
Matt Naylor
Lloyd Williams

Baseball Staff:
Liam Carroll
Will Lintern
Zach Graefser
Gavin Marshall
Cam McHarg
Josh Tomchesson

Softball Staff:
Johanna Malisani
Robbie Robison
Rachael Watkeys
Andrea Williams

New features of the HPA programme in 2016-17 were the introduction of weekly Facebook Live session on Monday nights that discussed goal setting, strength and conditioning, nutrition, sports psychology, throwing, hitting, fielding and sport-life balance, as well as special guests that included GB and Miami Marlins pitcher Jacob Esch and ex-UCLA softballer Tara Henry.

HPA selections

Athletes who were selected to participate in the Softball HPA over the past winter were:

Annecy Stevens
Laura Hirai*
Megan Beard
Katie Jessop
Amy Wells*
Immy Thomas
Rose Taylor-Bhanji
Sian Wigington
Theo Longboy
Caitlin Frank
Eliza Esiri
Glenys McGuire
Jasmine Lee-Tin
Chelsie Robison*
Marianna Casal
Saskia Davies*
Hannah Pitman

*These four Softball HPA athletes will  represent GB this summer at either the Women’s European Championship in Bollate, Italy or the Junior Women’s World championship in Clearwater, Florida, USA.

Athletes selected to participate in the Baseball HPA over the past winter were:

Ben Morris
Robert Smith
Jun Oono
Mizuki Hosoi
Tyler Badenhorst
Matthew Pope
Ludovich De Giorgi
Michael Flaherty
Al Banerjee
Ellis Deakin
Callum Vangundy
Elliot Berger
Max Asher
Dan Enstwistle
Coby Hargan
Matthew Moran
Harry O’Brien
Ollie Thompson*
Jonathan Tolan
Conor Baker-Latham
Alex Deacon
Jamie Gustafson
Ben Jones
Nathan Kettle
Graydon Koyanagi
Joseph Perez
Conor Baxter
Django Hendrickson
Jaxon Tomchesson
Conner Brown*
Drew Erdei
Michael Anunobi
Tosh Lawson
Dylan Baxter
Myles Janson
Jamie Warren
Aiden Pearce
Joe Rawcliff

*These two players were selected to represent Great Britain at Major League Baseball’s European Academy Spring Tournament this spring.


Because baseball and softball are now back on the list of sports recognised by SportsAid, a registered charity that supports high performance and Olympic athletes, some athletes from the High Performance Academy were able to receive grant funding in 2016 through a partnership arrangement between SportsAid and BaseballSoftballUK.

The following athletes received awards last year:

Laura Hirai
Sian Wigington
Marianna Casal
Chelsie Robison
Theo Longboy

Max Asher
Michael Anunobi
Emmanuel Oloyede
Connor Brown
Colby Hargan


Finally, two GB Baseball athletes have been able to take part in the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

This is a programme designed to give university students in high performance programmes additional support through strength and conditioning and lifestyle management. 

For the 2016-2017 cycle, TASS piloted a two-athlete programme with BSUK at Loughborough University, and Carlos Casal and Jacob Dean were both recipients of TASS scholarships.

It is hoped that following the success of this pilot scheme, more TASS scholarships can be offered to baseball and softball athletes in the future who choose to pursue their university education in the UK rather than going to the United States to play in college programmes.

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