Wrapping up the 2019 Juniors Programme in Trafford

Fri 13 Dec 2019

In October 2015, the BaseballSoftballUK development team in the North West created a junior baseball/softball programme in Trafford, with the vision of creating a team and eventually compete with other teams local and nationally. The programme aims to get children into the local clubs and leagues.

The Urmston Ripper Nippers, the Juniors baseball/softball club based in Trafford, Greater Manchester, played the first half of their Autumn season with six outdoor sessions, with varying weather but nevertheless making the most of the outdoor space at Urmston Sports Club. After the half term school break in October, the Juniors baseball/softball sessions for kids aged 8-14 years old moved indoor to Fives Soccer Centre for another six sessions before wrapping in December for the winter break. The sessions were run by North West Coach Linni Mitchell, with help from Assistant Coach and University of Manchester student Simon Sharp.

Each session starts up with a fun pulse raiser, involving lots of running around, followed by throwing warm-ups in pairs. Following warm-ups, the session moves on to the drill of the day. Every session finishes with a game, giving the squad a little taste of competition. Each week, new drills focus on a specific skill to develop, and kids are encouraged to use the new skills in the match at the end. The key to each session is a fun environment, with the programme designed to focus on the most active and enjoyable elements of the game. 

North West Coach Linni Mitchell reported, “Twelve newbies joined us from September and it’s fantastic to see new blood coming through and enjoying the sport. Congratulations to Player of the Season Freya, who came to the Juniors sessions following a term of baseball at her Primary School during the Summer term. Freya came along on during the first session in September and hasn’t missed a training since! I’m glad to see more and more kids coming along and enjoying our sports.”

Plans for 2020 include traveling to play against teams such as Cartmel Valley and Bracknell Juniors.

Since the programme started in 2015 over 70 junior-aged players from the Trafford area and beyond have attended the sessions. There are a handful of kids who have been regular attendees over the last four years, and have continued to develop alongside the players who have discovered the sport more recently. Most notably are James Warren and Melba Woodcock, who both were at the first-ever session in October 2015 at age 10, and are now playing in the Manchester Indoor Softball League for rookie team Ace of Base. James was named Manchester Indoor Softball Junior Player of the Year at the Autumn 2019 awards ceremony and has also recently enrolled onto the BSUK Fastpitch Softball Academy!

Sisters Charlotte and Grace Khwaja also started their softball careers at the juniors sessions, aged 11 and 10 respectively. The teenage sisters now play alongside their dad Shawn and step-mum Dianne (who actually met playing in the Manchester Indoor Softball League!) for the Didsbury Bats.

Reflecting on the progress of these junior players, Linni said, “To see players like James, Melba, Charlotte and Grace progress to play for competitive adult teams is absolutely amazing.  If somebody told me four years ago that any of the kids I was introducing to baseball and softball would be playing regularly in an adult league, I would have been thrilled! It's great to see them playing each week and I hope they continue for years to come.”

Luis Arrevillagas, BSUK Regional Development Manager commented, “It’s fantastic to see James, Melba, Grace and Charlotte all playing in the Manchester Indoor Softball League after starting out at our first ever Juniors sessions in 2015. It’s even more special to see them playing on teams with their parents and James joining the BSUK Softball Academy. We hope more of the juniors will progress to this level in the next few years.”

Juniors sessions are back in January 2020 starting on Sunday 19th 2-3pm at Fives Trafford. For more info check out our Facebook page or contact Linni .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  

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