Other Softball Australia events
Other National events
Softball Australia is responsible for the coordination of all involvement of Softball at a national and international level. It facilitates participation and conducts national and international tournaments including:
The first season of the Women's national league, otherwise known as the Gilley's Shield and Australian Open Women's Championship took place in 2007. This competition provides elite players from their respective state or territory an opportunity to replicate the intense nature and demanding playing schedule of the World Championships.
The Gilley's Shield is the highlight of the softball calendar where Australia's best female softballers represent their state or territory in a national competition to win the Shield. It is the highest level of competition for the Open Women. This combined event is the pinnacle of the softball national calendar, showcasing top athletes and their outstanding skills (see Awards).
The first official interstate carnival was held in 1947 and was organised by president of Softball Queensland, Mack Gilley, and as a result, the competition now bears his name. Following the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 where Australia won bronze, it was recognised for Australia to win gold, a higher level of competition was needed and subsequently created.
A Grand Prix series, played over 4 weekends throughout the summer, was introduced and was classified as a selection event for the Olympics and world championships. The Gilley's Shield became a separate event that included teams from the majority of the states and territories who competed over 7 days in January. Australia won silver at the Athens Olympics and it was decided at this time that the Australian Women's Championship and Gilley's Shield should be combined culminating with the final in the last weekend of February. This event retained the name of Gilley's Shield (see all the Gilley's Shield winners since 1947).
The Edebone-Weber Shield is run in conjunction with the Gilley's Shield. The Audrey McLaughlin Cup is awarded to the team that finishes first at the end of Round 1. Participating teams include the South Australian Starz, Victorian Titans, Western Australian Flames, NSW Firestars, Queensland Heat and ACT Diamonds.
See previous Edebone-Weber winners/Award recipients.
The inaugural tournament for 18s and under was introduced as an equivalent national event in 1974, to fill the gap identified between the U16 and Open Women’s Australian Championships. The tournament was hosted by Victoria in Melbourne and won by New South Wales. The 18 and under age group officially became the U19 Australian Championship in 1976.
The trophy was donated in honor of Elinor McKenzie. Elinor had a long and proud history in Softball playing in excess 25 times for Australia in an international career that spanned 12 years. She was a member of the Australian team that won the gold medal at the first Women’s World Softball Championships held in Melbourne, Australia. Elinor was a respected 1st base player held in high regard throughout the Softball world. Sadly, Elinor passed away on the eve of its first presentation on 19 May 1974 before she had the opportunity to present the shield.
This event is a showcase of our future stars, and a major part of the high performance pathway. Many college scouts from the US have identified this event as a recruitment opportunity with many Australian girls being offered scholarships to a number of the top schools in America. The International Softball Federation introduced the U19 Junior World Championship for women in 1981 in which Australia competed.
The first men's championship was played in Sydney, won by Western Australia in 1984. John Reid is a New Zealand Softball native who migrated to Australia in 1968 where his skills as a journalist and umpire were quickly recognised. He later became the inspiration for developing men's softball in NSW and was the leading member behind the inaugural National Men's Championship held in Sydney.
Men's softball has been described as fast and furious, with pitching speeds recorded as high as 135 km per hour from 46 feet away (14.02m). This event is open to all states and territories, it is an annual event held over 5 days in February, and is held in conjunction with the women's final round. This combined event is the pinnacle of the Softball national calendar, showcasing top athletes and their outstanding skills. The strength and depth of talent for this event has been instrumental in winning the gold medal at the 2009 ISF IX Men's World Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The first U19 Men's Championships was held in Sydney in 1989 and won by NSW. The tournament was named after Nox Bailey for his commitment to developing men's softball; he collaborated with John Reid and Edna Nash to bring the tournament to fruition. Nox was a powerful force behind men's softball in WA and ultimately Australia; he was a member of the Bayswater Softball Club for 25 years, Life Member of WA Softball Association and WA Men's Softball League. Today Australia dominates on a world stage in this particular age group, winning the last 4 World Championships. This domination has begun to transfer into the Australian men's program, winning gold for the first time at the 2009 Men's World Championship.
Since 1970 the Esther Deason Shield was awarded to the winning team of the U16 Girl's Australian Championship.
Esther Deason was instrumental in the formation of Softball Australia. She is honoured as a Life Member of the organisation and as an inductee to both the Australian and International Softball Hall of Fame. It is for this reason that the Shield for the U17 Girls' Championship bears her name. Esther devoted most of her life to softball throughout Australia and is remembered for her in-depth passion for her sport.
Since 1991 the Arthur Allsopp Shield was awarded to the winning team of the U16 Boy's Australian Champions.
Arthur Allsopp's avid sporting background as a state cricketer for NSW playing with Sir Donald Bradman and Victoria was lured to the softball arena by his daughter's involvement, Norma, an Australian representative. Arthur became a national badge umpire and was on the umpire's roster for the first world championship in 1965. His focus shifted to coaching and dedicated his time to the development of juniors in Victoria.
The first Australian U15 Regional Championship was held in July 2011 in Rockhampton. The event is open to all skill levels, with an emphasis on fun and development. It also provides athletes, coaches, umpires and statisticians with training opportunities to further develop their skills in all aspects of the game. Open to Regional/Academy, Association and Club teams across Australia, this event is seen as the initial stage of the national pathway providing a variety of valuable training and development sessions.
The International Friendship Series provides Australian Youth Squads development opportunities and experience in an intense high performance environment. It is also used to assist with talent identification for aspiring national athletes of the future as well as providing a foundation for skill development.
The International Friendship Series allows selectors to see how the athlete handles pressure, adversity, disappointment and success. It also provides an opportunity to gauge how they respond to instructions, team plays and team dynamics while in a very competitive environment. Preceding the International Friendship Series, the Australian Youth Squads are put through a rigorous training camp, with invited coaches/presenters who are the experts in their field.
Softball Australia’s objective is to target quality opposition from the Asia/Pacific region. Participating teams in this tournament have included – US College Teams, NZ Junior Development Squads, Oceana National Teams, Regional Academy’s and Associations from across Australia and New Zealand.
To date the tournament has been held in July at Blacktown International Sports Park, Sydney comprising of both a women’s and men’s competition. The tournament not only provides development opportunities for our elite athletes but also aspiring coaches, umpires, statisticians and team managers. Many of the current coaches for the Aussie Colts and Aussie Pride teams have come through this development program.
Since its establishment in 1981, School Sport Australia has been responsible for the development and promotion of school sport in Australia. Softball was introduced to the program in 1989, with the first national championship held in Canberra, won by ACT.
These are the culmination of state based programs and offer the gifted and talented students the opportunity to participate in higher levels of sporting competition. These events are an integral part of the School Sport Australia program, not only for their sporting benefits, but for the immense educational, cultural and social benefits they provide for the participants. The secondary schools championships are held in May, and the primary school championships are in November, on a state rotational hosting schedule, each year.
Since its inception in 1993, the Australian University Games has grown to be Australia's largest annual multi-sport event. Held each September/October, the Games are renowned for providing a friendly but competitive environment for Australian university athletes. The Games are known as the flagship event on the national university sporting calendar.
The Games are recognised as a perfect opportunity to provide university athletes, many of whom are of Olympic standard, to compete against each other in a national multi-sport event. As such, the Games are reputed as a not-to-be-missed event, attracting more than 6,000 participants each year.
Softball Australia and Special Olympics Australia are working together to foster the development of softball for people with intellectual disabilities at local, state, national and international levels. Softball was 1 of 12 sports represented in the 2010 Special Olympics National Games in Adelaide. More than 60 athletes plus support staff participated in the softball competition. The Special Olympics National Softball team will be defending their 2007 Gold Medal win at the Special Olympics World Games in Athens in June 2011.
Australian Masters Games involves more than 10,000 participants from all over Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Oceania as part of the celebration of mature-age sport. The Games provide an opportunity for participation for people 30+ years regardless of background or ability with the aim of encouraging lifelong participation in sport. Australia and New Zealand have the largest number of athletes that participate in the world. Softball has been a regular sport included in the Games.
Updated 4 December 2013
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