Northants Centurions Baseball Club hitting new heights!
Posted: Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:07
BaseballSoftballUK, the development agency for the sports of Baseball and Softball in the United Kingdom, recently published an article shining the spotlight on Northants Centurions Baseball Club and the significant developments the club has made since forming 3 years ago.
In the article, BSUK Midlands Development Manager, Leah Holmes, explains how the club has harnessed the local School Games programme to form a new youth baseball team, in addition to their growing adult section and recently formed slowpitch softball squad.
"Northants Centurions is an example of a club that has embraced opportunity in order to rapidly grow. They are a progressive and positive club, with a committee of 'can do' people pulling in the same direction," says Leah.
About the club
The Northants Centurions are a young club, founded in 2013, with close help from BaseballSoftballUK. They entered the BBF leagues for the first time in 2014 and, in just a couple of seasons, have already undertaken work to develop a youth section.
Working around challenges
Although the club has formed and recruited players in the local area, they don't currently have a home ground to play from. However, they have not let this challenge hold them back, working hard to grow what their club offers through this past summer season and into the off-season.
The Mini Centurions
One area that has really gained momentum is the development of the club's junior branch, the 'Mini Centurions'! To start with, the club co-ordinated the Northamptonshire School Games softball event, giving local pupils a taster of diamond sports and were successful in recruiting a number of new junior members off the back of the event. They then expanded on the weekly junior sessions they have previously offered to include a brand new summer camp, which saw 15 participants playing baseball across three days at St Crispins Park in Northampton. Building on this activity, they were then able to take a number of players to the Herts Futures Tournament for the first time.
Coach Paul Rance said of the event: "It was an amazing day with the Mini Centurions and I could not have been prouder of the effort put in by each and every one of them. With Martin Maloney now taking on the role of Head Coach and a number of our players chipping in to support with the summer course and schools competition, we are excited about the future of our juniors and look forward to seeing them develop further in 2017."
Expanding to include softball
It is not only the young people who are benefitting from the club's growth. In August, the club reached out to new participants by launching weekly slowpitch softball sessions targeting complete beginners. The sessions that started with just a handful of players have slowly grown. The season culminated with the successful creation of a team entering the local MK Indoor League, a fantastic step and a way to sustain the new participants over the winter period.
"Softball with the Northants Centurions has really taken off. What started as a mainly male group has now turned in to a brand new slowpitch team with both male and female players of a real range of ages and abilities. The mix of seasoned baseballers mixing with brand new players has really helped with their development and means the club now has even more to offer the people of Northamptonshire," says Leah Holmes.
"This is an important step, as it shows that the club offers playing opportunities to men and women, youngsters and adults. In turn, this helps with developing partnerships and the club have had growing support from the Borough Council and their County Sports Partnership, Northamptonshire Sport."
Developing their committee of volunteers
In order to achieve their objectives, the club has had to expand its committee and upskill its coaches; with two additional coaches attending the brand new Level 2 Coaching Course recently held in Nottingham. The club also hosted a 'Time to Listen' Safeguarding Course, in partnership with Northamptonshire Sport, delivered by BSUK staff. This strong relationship with their County Sports Partnership led to the club's involvement in the School Games and they were subsequently invited to attend their 'Women's Workout Wednesday' event to promote their softball sessions.
However, this is just the start! Work is now underway on their new baseball diamond and the club are working alongside the Borough Council and BSUK to ensure it is completed as early as possible in the New Year, ready for what is bound to be an exciting 2017 season!
As well as repeating the wide range of activities delivered last year, the club hopes to grow even further, entering a slowpitch team into the MK Softball League, expanding the junior programmes into schools and also working closely with BSUK and the University of Northampton to support the setup of a new student team.
Get in touch!
Do you live in Northamptonshire and want to get involved in Baseball? Check out the Northants Centurions' Facebook page for more information!