2008 Softball BC Awards:

Community Coach Award – Beverley Dewitt

Bev has been a softball coach and promoter of Softball in Sicamous since 1995. She is a Level 2 coach and has taken several different teams to Provincial Championships at the Squirt and Peewee levels, finishing 4th at Peewee C Girls Provincials in 2002.

As a school teacher, she tirelessly promotes the game of Softball to her students, volunteers her time freely, works with any child who wants to learn how to play and/or pitch Softball, resulting in 20% of the total number of children enrolled in elementary school in Sicamous playing Softball – all this without having any children involved…until 2008 when her 2 children, Madison, 6, and Jacob, 4 joined the local Learn to Play program!

After purchasing various practice aids, toys & manuals, Bev set out to deliver the Learn to Play program, starting with 12 players, which grew quickly through word of mouth to 22 players ages 4-6. Note: there are only 30 children in this age group in Sicamous! The children in the program are having fun, learning the sport of Softball, and eagerly wanting to return to the next scheduled practice/game. The parents, many who have played Softball, are thankful for and impressed with the influence that Bev is having on their children and local Softball.

Bev exemplifies all the qualities of a community coach and is very deserving of the 2008 Community Coach Award – our sport needs more people like her who are there for the right reasons.

Honory Life Member – Bill Kielo

In 1948, when Bill was 5 years old, he started playing organized ball in the Aldergrove league, continuing to do so until he was 15 when he joined the Senior C Men’s League in Abbotsford, playing their games in Aldergrove because they didn’t have their own ball park – which Bill was helpful in changing.

In 1963, at age 20, Bill was a player on the first BC Junior Men’s Provincial Championship team. In 1967, he moved to Fort St John, taking up the 2nd base position on a sponsored team in the Local Senior Men’s Fastball League. He could hit the inside pitch down the right field line and out of the park, or, lay down a sacrifice bunt when called upon to do so.

Due to a knee injury in 1981, Bill’s focus was changed from player to coach, convincing the locals to switch from baseball to fastball – a career which lasted until 2004. Attending a meeting in Prince George in the early 80’s meant that he was positioned as Softball BC District 12 Minor Representative for the next 8 years.

Bill started umpiring in the Fort St John Men’s League in 1970, formed the Fort St John Umpire Association in 1983, still acts as a Director and continues to actively umpire.

Bill was on the Men’s League Executive for numerous years. On May 12, 1995, he was the first to be honoured by having his name and number #6 retired to the Fort St John Men’s Fastball League Wall of Fame.

He helped build ball diamonds in Abbotsford, Taylor and Fort St John, sponsored teams, fulfilled the duties of groundskeeper, scorekeeper, executive, coach, umpire and……just shows up at the park every once in a while to watch a game of Softball – a truly deserving recipient of the Honary Life Member Award.

Minor Service Award – Cheryl Flundra

Cheryl has been deeply involved with Softball in Kamloops as a player, coach, umpire, executive member, groundskeeper and “right-hand gal” for many events.

Cheryl’s unique approach to the science of hitting, pitching and catching combined with her knack for unselfish sharing of her knowledge makes her so effective in establishing a solid foundation for many players. She encourages skill development and progression helping to fulfill players’ dreams, no matter the age or ability.

She has coached players from Learn to Play to junior, attended 2 Summer Games as the Zone 2 Boys’ coach taking a Gold Medal in 2006 in Kamloops and organized player clinics, leagues and tournaments, all this while working a full-time job and taking care of 4 children plus their friends when needed. She is a role model in the community and continues to keep her upbeat attitude and cheery smile regardless of what comes her way – a deserving recipient of a Minor Service Award.

Minor Service Award – Don Markwart

The success of Softball events held in Don’s area of the province have been due to his availability, knowledge and passion for the sport.

He coaches, umpires, organizes and oversees everything that goes on regarding Softball in his area. Kitimat Minor Softball had only 30 players 5 years ago and has increased to 115 registered players over the age of 10 in 2008 – the result of his dogged determination to keep Softball alive. He has held association executive positions, taken care of equipment and has been the District 13 Minor Coordinator since 1996.

Don has coached teams of all age groups at Provincials & BC Summer Games, instructed in the local Learn to Play program, umpired at Provincial Championships and acts as a role model for up-and-coming young umpires…all this with no children involved in the sport.

He has been instrumental in implementing minor motions to deal with small numbers of players in the outlying areas of our province -Don is here for the right reasons and truly is deserving of a Minor Service Award for 2008.

Coach of the Year – Ken McCarthy

Talking to kids in Kitimat about Softball has made 2008 a year to remember for Ken. The season started out with not enough boys wanting to play and may have been helped by the fact that they mixed with the girls’ ball teams. Whatever the catalyst, the boys climbed aboard the Softball band wagon.

After league play got underway in the wet & cold climate of the northwest area of the province, Ken held Summer Games tryouts in Kitimat for the boys’ zone team, encouraging participants to attend from throughout the Zone.

Provincial Championships soon meant a trip to the Lower Mainland for the Peewee team Ken coached. They struck Gold and were the headed to the BC Summer Games in Kelowna. They struck Gold again and were headed to Richmond for the Western Canada Championships. You guessed it – Gold again.

What more could a Softball coach ask for – commitment from players, coaches and community to support a sport that he invests all his free time in, reading up on the latest coaching techniques, doing practice plans, arranging for trips and working with youth, all the while keeping it FUN!

Ken’s commitment to the Softball players and Softball in Kitimat has been outstanding.

He is proud of the 3 Gold medals that the team won in 2008, proud of the players coming together as a team when in April they didn’t have a league and proud that the players will be returning in the future to play the sport he loves because they have fun. Having started his coaching career when his sons played Softball, he has no plays to hang up the clipboard just yet.

Congratulations Ken on being named the 2008 coach of the Year.

Minor Umpire Service Award – Fred Zibin

Fred has been umpiring since 1988 and has been the District 2 UIC since the turn of the century – this one! He is certified as a Level 4 umpire for both Fastpitch and SloPitch, has officiated at over 30 Provincial, 4 National and 2 Western Championships, and officiated at the 2007 Canada Cup Futures event.

Fred has been the driving force for umpire development in District 2, organizing, documenting, training and evaluating. He has coordinated umpires for Port Alberni events for the past 10 years, emphasizing the need to have novice umpires working with senior umpires to hone their umpiring skills, resulting in District 2 having an excellent reputation for officiating.

Fred played a key role in developing the BC Novice Umpire Program and continues to make presentations at Umpire Leadership Meetings. He is very well respected in both District 2 and throughout the province at every level of play.

The positive impact Fred has had on literally hundreds of umpires, coaches and players over his many years of service to the umpire program makes him worthy of the 2008 Minor Umpire Service Award.

Senior Team of the Year – Island Devils

In 2004, a group of girls consisting of 2-19 year olds and a mixture of 17 & 18 year olds banded together, chose the name Island Devils, so as not to leave any community out, and headed to the ball field to play A ball. They worked hard, bonded with each other, respected what each brought to the team and were coached by Rick Merrifield and Russ Fanucchi.

Their first year in Midget A, they finished 4th out of 10 teams at Provincials. Some worked together while others pursued their course of post-secondary studies but they always came back to the Island to play ball. They have won Junior A Provincials for the last 3 years, each year attending Nationals winning the bronze medal in 2008, a year in which 10 of the original 14 players signed the roster. Injury prevented 2 of the original players from participating in the 2008 season.

They are a remarkable team, continuing to play together and be best friends well into their future years of competitive Softball – the 2008 Senior Team of the Year.

Senior Athlete of the Year – Marisa Lister

“Marta” began her Softball playing career with the Central Saanich Association, moving to the Island Devils in 2004 to play Midget A ball. Taking off her first year of Junior eligibility to travel with her family in Italy, she returned this past season, with great drive and determination.

At the 2008 BC Junior Provincial Championships, she dominated the event with her pitching skill and technique and her offensive play. With the Canadian berth secured, she was an active member of the Island Devils team who, as a group, raised over $30,000 for the trip to the National Championships in PEI – a player on and off the field.

Marisa was focused and determined at the event, always positive and reflective of the game, which proved to be rewarding – the 2008 Junior Women’s Fastball Championship Top Pitcher” award, with a bronze medal for the team.

Marisa is in her final year of the Bachelor of Nursing program at Brenau University (NAIA), excelling both academically and athletically, collecting many awards in both disciplines. She had been offered scholarships to continue with her Masters of Nursing, an additional 2 years at the same University, during which time she would be a member of the coaching staff for the Softball team, returning her skill and love of the game to others.

A worthy recipient of the Senior Athlete of the Year for 2008 is Marisa Lister.

Senior Service Award – Victoria/Saanich Women’s Fastball Association

In 1971, Walter Yeamans secured Hyacinth Park at the corner of Interurban and Marigold so the Senior Ladies would have a ball facility to call home, and no longer have to share Central Park with the men.

The park was used by soccer players in the winter which meant that the dedicated volunteers every spring had to put the outfield fences up and take them down at season’s end. Finally, in 1989, the Municipality of Saanich turned the running of the park over to them. The current building with a meeting room upstairs, an umpire room, storage area for grounds equipment and storage lockers for individual team equipment was erected. The diamonds were skinned and score booths built, everything being done by players, coaches and friends.

Over the years, the park hosted many Provincial and Western Canadian Championships for senior men, women, mixed and minors. Hosting Provincial events and clinics for minors has been a highlight for the park – a chance to let it shine. In the 1980′s and 90′s, annual tournaments were held providing much needed funding for on-going maintenance and improvements.

The Victoria/Saanich Womens Association has been the steeping stones for minors entering the senior game at the elite level. Many Hyacinth teams over the years have represented British Columbia at Westerns and Canadians with much success. The park continues to showcase women’s ball, now and in the future – a tribute to the 2008 Senior Service Award recipient Victoria/Sannich Women’s Fastball Association.

Senior Service Award – South Hill Sports Association

For over 50 years, South Hill Sports Association has been providing recreational opportunities for amateur athletes. The mission of the Association is to promote develop and enhance amateur sport with the involvement of members, volunteers and the community.

South Hill Sports Association is managed by an elected Board of Directors who volunteer their time to build a better community. South Hill has hosted numerous national and international tournaments and has considerable expertise in staging these events. During a normal year, the Association will host five to seven tournaments including Provincials.

These events draw people from all over the province and bring money into the local economy. The Association provides job opportunities for young people during the summer months. It has also created a South Hill Sports Hall of Fame in order to honor the past contributions of players, management, umpires, builders and to encourage participation in the Alumni Association.

The Association operates South Memorial Park on a long-term lease with the Vancouver Park Board. The Association invests its profits back into improved facilities and, in its continuing relationship with the Park Board, has developed two new playing fields which were christened in 1997.

Minor Team of the Year – Surrey Storm 90A

The Surrey Storm 90A Midget a Girls team is the most prolific winning team in Surrey Storm’s history.

They have won BC Provincial Gold as an A team in the Squirt, Peewee, Bantam and Midget categories, Silver at Westerns as Peewee, Silver at Nationals as Peewee, Gold and Silver at Nationals as Bantam, Gold and Bronze at Nationals as Midget, Canada Cup Showcase Silver as Bantam and Canada Cup Futures Gold as Midget.

In the 2008 season, the team record was 72-5-1 with only 2 of the losses to Canadian teams. 9 of the players have received scholarships, 2 to Canadian Universities and 7 to American Universities.

A worthy recipient for the Minor Team of the Year to be sure, Surrey Storm 90A Midget Girls.

Softball BC Hall of Fame – Athlete – Heather Cranston

Heather began her Softball career as a player with the Vancouver Merchants in 1971, playing in the South Memorial and North-West Senior A Women’s Leagues, attending World championships in 1974 and 1978, latterly bringing home the Silver Medal from El Salvador.

In 1984, she switched gears to become a coach/manager for a Peewee Girls team with New Westminster Minor Association, moving to Senior Women’s responsibilities in 1986 in the Fraser Vale Challenge and continuing with Juniors until 1990.

In 1974, Heather became a clinician for Softball clinics meaning that promotion of the game by developing solid playing skills for the players and providing good coaching techniques would provide a basis for Softball to thrive throughout the province of BC.

In the early 80’s, Heather represented Softball Canada and the National Team Players on the Athlete’s Advisory Council, set up after the 1980 boycott of the Russian Olympics to provide a venue for Olympic and Pan American athletes to have input into political discussions, performance levels and funding assistance for elite athletes.

Heather became a certified coach in 1985, completing Levels 1 & 2 in the NCCP program.

In the early 1990’s, Heather co-founded with Terri Cruly, the Salute to the Stars event which was an induction celebration to name top Senior A Women players and team managers/sponsors to the South Hill Sports Hall of Fame.

A most worthy recipient of the Softball BC Hall of Fame in the Athlete category would be Heather Cranston.

Carrie Flemmer – Softball BC Hall of Fame – Athlete 2007

Softball was Carrie’s passion and she “caught” the softball spirit early in life. Carrie began her softball career in 1974, as a mini mite in North Delta and continued to play there for the next seventeen years, graduating from Seaquam Secondary.

On a full scholarship, Carrie attended Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana where she graduated with a Bachelor or Arts. In 1990 she was named the Female Athlete of the Year and was also Scholastic and Athlete All-American. In 2001 Carrie was inducted into the Centenary College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Carrie was a member of the White Rock Renegades dynasty that dominated women’s softball in the early ‘90s. In 1992 and 1993 the White Rock Renegades were the Gold Medal winners at the Canadian Sr. ‘A’ Women’s Championships.

Carrie was the starting catcher for the Canadian Women’s National Team for six years. Her accomplishments have allowed her to travel around the world as she competed in various tournaments. In 1991 she competed for Canada at the Pan American Games in Cuba where Canada captured a Silver medal, and again in 1995 in Argentina where Canada repeated their silver medal performance. At the 1994 ISC World championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland as one of the top five finishers Canada qualified for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Carrie competed with Team Canada at the Summer Olympics at the inaugural tournament of women’s softball where the team finished fifth.

Currently Carrie resides in Surrey, BC and is a Real Estate Agent for Royal LePage. She also is a member of City of Surrey’s Mayor’s task force on 2010 Olympics.

Carrie’s newest passion is enjoying Motherhood.

Minor Player of the Year – Jessie Potskin

The Potskin name has long been associated with outstanding softball players and the newest member of the family to suit up for Team Canada was 19-year-old Jessie Potskin. Jessie was one of two B.C. players named to the Junior Men’s Canadian Team that participated at the World Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories in June 2008.

Jessie was selected for Team Canada after a five-day evaluation camp in May 2008 in Tampa Bay Fla. that looked at 26 athletes. After a seven day training camp in Vancouver in advance of the tournament, the team was off to Whitehorse. Going into the tournament, Head Coach Tom Doucette remarked, “If past World Championships are indicators of what will occur in Whitehorse, the fans will certainly be in for a softball treat.

There are so many countries that have high end programs that the week should have some epic confrontations.” And Mr. Doucette’s predictions were correct. With limited time to train together as a team, they had their work cut out for them, and they didn’t disappoint by winning the Silver Medal after losing a heartbreaking 2 – 1 final to Australia in 8 innings.

Jessie’s hitting was a huge part of the team’s success. After an eleven game round robin schedule Canada finished in 3rd place. During round robin play, Jessie was the top Canadian batter with an average of .441 in 34 at bats and a slugging percentage of .971. He hit 4 Homeruns and had 11 RBI’s. In the championship round he went 4 for 9 and a batting average of .444.

Swinging a lethal bat for Canada makes Jessin Potskin our Minor Athlete of the Year.