The Newcastle District Softball Association (NDSA), affiliated with Softball NSW, had a huge 2018/19 season achieving Softball Australia Homeplate Status in the Homeplate Ladder Program for the third time since the program’s conception.
Amassing 134 points, including a 4% growth in membership, NDSA topped off a great year finishing second on the Homeplate Ladder for associations nationally.
Planning for the future
The Association completed the Sport Australia Club Health Check which helped identify that they required a plan to guide their future direction.
“Our Club Health Check showed we needed a more extensive plan for the future in addition to an annual plan,” said NDSA, President Christine Halpin.
“We then sat down and worked on a plan for the next five years. Our strategic plan is very important, it shows we have direction and that the Association and all of our Clubs are working together towards the same goals.”
Goals and objectives
NDSA’s main goal this year was an increase in registration numbers, in particular, junior registrations.
“Our growth was achieved by hard working club and association volunteers. We hold a President’s Forum (planning meeting) every July and discuss our goals for the upcoming season. We formed a plan for getting softball out to the broader community,” added Halpin.
“Some of our ideas, which led to our growth, included a subsidized junior registration fee allowing families a more affordable sport, come and try days, school gala days and a social pre-season gala day, where we encouraged mums and dads to come and play for the day.”
The NDSA also advertised in schools, radio community notice boards, local newspapers and formed a partnership with baseball and soccer which allowed them to hand out flyers to their members for a summer sport choice.
This year the NDSA also trialed a Winter Softball League based on interest received.
“With the use of only two diamonds that we had available, we managed to attract 12 teams who played over three time slots on a Saturday. This hopefully is the start of a new competition and another way in which we can increase membership growth.”
Facility Improvement and management
NDSA are one of four sporting group users of Stevenson Park. They continually work with other sports to improve the park and playing areas.
With the help of State and Local Government grants in addition to their own fundraising has enabled NDSA to maintain and improve facilities.
Volunteer training and recognition
NDSA regularly hold training in coaching, umpiring and scoring from Level 1-3 before, during and after their season. They have implemented a mentor system to develop their junior umpires and coaches.
“All our volunteers receive basic training to make them feel more confident in their roles. We also invite all our volunteers to a season opening afternoon to join the Executive committee for nibbles and a drink and watch the 1st grade games. This allows any new volunteers to meet our more experienced volunteers and have a chat,” added Halpin.
“At our end of season presentation, we present at least one volunteer from every club with an award to acknowledge their hard work and many hours they have contributed to their club, our Association and the sport. We also nominate our volunteers for Local Council and Softball NSW awards. Recently one of our long-term volunteers was awarded with a certificate and pin from our local state politician for services to sport in NSW.
“It’s important to acknowledge the behind the scenes volunteers who give up countless hours to help our association and sport.
“Achieving Homeplate status and being able to advertise this helps the Association show our local council, sponsors and members that we are a well-run sport and are up to date with all of our policies, member protection and State body requirements and procedures.”