The Southern Tasmanian Softball Association is located at Prince of Wales Bay in the northern suburbs of Hobart. Established in 1948 the Association moved to its current location in 1988 and is the only softball association in the south of the state. The Prince of Wales Bay Reserve is shared with baseball and a local soccer club. The softball part of the venue is known as The Corrie Jones Softball Park named after the Association’s first Life Member.
In recent years, like many small associations, STSA has suffered a decline in numbers. Four years ago, we had to vacate our premises due to the installation of a new storm water system that went right through the middle of the diamond. It looked like a bomb site. The local council rehoused us at a nearby soccer ground and whilst the soccer club was very good to us, we suffered financially and with membership. The biggest issue for the Association was the loss of the men’s competition as the soccer ground did not have lights and the men could only play at night. We returned to our own facilities two years ago but the men’s competition did not return as many of the players had gone to baseball.
So, we had to rebuild. Our first priority, as regards membership, was to resurrect a junior competition. We had developed a good relationship with baseball so following discussions with them, a partnership was created to form a Batter Up T- Ball competition. After a lot of hard work and amazing commitment from a small band of softball and baseball stalwarts, a roster was established and got under way at the commencement of the 2015 -16 season. The competition began with 87 registered players. Softball and baseball players took on coaching roles and a small group of parents underwent training in scoring and management. Following media coverage, word of mouth and more sheer hard work registrations increased to 134 at the start of the 2016-17 season. T Ball was offered to U11s who had moved up from the Batter Up program and softball was also available at an U13 level. The 2017-18 season will see a greater focus on the older age group.
Developing juniors and providing a pathway into aged and senior softball is of paramount importance. A Social 7s roster is conducted during the off season. Played at night under the lights, this program is well patronised by both women and men and there is a small flow on to the regular summer roster. It’s an enjoyable and fun seven or eight weeks and the fact that people are happy to brave Hobart’s cool winter nights is testament to its popularity.
The first Saturday back after the Christmas break in the summer roster is designated Corrie Jones Day. Players names from all clubs are put into a hat and drawn out to make up teams. There are always some past players who take the opportunity to renew acquaintances and put their softball skills on display. This is a very enjoyable day with games played under modified rules.
At a governance level STSA has been engaged in several initiatives. Board members have attended seminars and forums provided by Sport and Recreation and participated in the Softball Tasmania Strategic Planning forum. Following involvement at this level STSA has conducted its own forum with club affiliates. Updating the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws is a work in progress and has arisen out of Softball Tasmania’s own work in this area.
The Association has been successful over the past two years in gaining two substantial grants. One was to assist in the promotion of the Batter Up program and the purchase of equipment to cater for the significant number of registrations. The second grant was to effect improvements to the Association’s clubrooms, a very necessary step towards encouraging membership.
STSA is at Level 3 in the Good Sports program implementing procedures and requirements around bar usage and ensuring members are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities to ensure our status remains at that level. As an Association, we encourage the participation of people of diverse levels of ability. A mixed Special Olympics team plays in our regular summer roster and members of this team are an inspiration to all with their enthusiasm and enjoyment of softball having a positive impact on everyone associated with the game. We have an ongoing commitment to providing opportunities for members with disability to participate in and contribute to all the Association’s activities. STSA was awarded The Robin Hood AM Sport Award in the 2015 Human Rights Week Tasmania. This award is for a sporting organisation based in Tasmania that has acted to ensure the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights.
Future planning is a key issue. Reference has been made to the improvement of clubroom facilities but there is still work to be done. It is the intention of the Board to make the facilities as attractive as possible for members so that they will be happy to meet there and use the venue for additional activities other than those related directly to softball. The main diamond was never the same after the storm water works so with the help of the Glenorchy City Council (our local Council) a major upgrade has been undertaken over these winter months. It is expected that the results will be of great benefit to all.
The Softball Community Coaching Program/Level one accreditation Course was held last season and was well attended. This was particularly the case with those involved with the Batter Up / T-ball program. All affiliated clubs have completed their Health Checks. STSA and one club are registered with Homeplate and it is expected that two others will do so shortly.
The Southern Tasmanian Softball Association is a small association battling the issues that face many softball associations. Volunteers are relied on totally to ensure the promotion and continuation of softball in the south of Tasmania. They are hardworking, dedicated and committed to ensuring growth and the provision of an environment that is friendly and caring.
Softball Tasmania Association Coordinator Joanne Paez (right) presenting
Homeplate Status Certificate to Southern Tasmanian Softball Association
committee members Evelyn Seabourne, Geoff Hutchison and Laurie Newman at a recent visit.