After a one-year hiatus, the Simon Fraser University Clan women’s softball team was back on the Coast last weekend for a two-day skills clinic hosted by Sechelt Minor Softball.
Friday night saw about 20 kids ranging from U8 to U16 take part in a pitching clinic, while on Saturday, more than 40 kids took part in a day-long skills clinic covering all aspects of the game from hitting and fielding to bunting, base running and throwing.
SFU head coach Mike Renney said the team was excited to come back to the Coast and work with the kids.
“I think we have younger kids this year, which is a good sign for the future,” Renney said. “Clinics such as this allow our athletes to give back, to be role models and to get out in the community and be seen. They take away rewards themselves in the smiles of the kids and the improvement in the athletes because they’ve seen a lot of these kids before in previous years. I think we all benefit from it.”
It was a quick trip for the Clan, as the team was on a plane Sunday for a nine-day tour in China, but Renney said some members of the team who were not going on the China trip decided to extend their stay at the campus to allow them to make the trip to the Sunshine Coast.
“In our move as a university from NAIA to the NCAA, there is a transitional sit-out year where there is no post-season eligibility. This is the year we have no post season, so knowing that ahead of time we scheduled an international trip,” Renney said. “Last year this trip didn’t fit in our schedule, but we’re happy we were able to come back this year. This is always an enjoyable weekend for our athletes.”
Besides the on-field skills, Renney said it’s essential for the Clan to also stress the importance of academics during the clinic.
“The likelihood of many of these kids making it as a college softball player isn’t high, but certainly the likelihood of many of them going onto post-secondary education is certainly front and centre and should be one of the things we focus on,” he said.
Sechelt Minor Soft-ball president Randy Young-husband said he was very happy with the weekend.
“It was a perfect clinic — as usual. It was enthusiastically led, the weather couldn’t have been better, and all the participants had a great time,” Younghusband said. “All the parents I talked to spoke glowingly of the clinic and how much their child was enjoying it. One of my favourite moments of the day was overhearing one of the young girls participating say she was going to be just like the girls leading the clinic. I am not sure if it referred to her softball, school or leading others (or all the above), but in any case that is awesome to hear, as I know that is a big reason Sid [Quinn] and the board started it several years ago.”
And the athletes themselves had a great time.
Sophomore pitcher Elsie Hawkins from Victoria said she knows first-hand of the value a skills clinic like the one last weekend had on her career.
“Growing up in Victoria, I went to a lot of skills camps like this. I know if I wouldn’t have done that there would be no way I would be playing and going to a school like SFU,” she said. “It’s fun to see the kids working hard, and who knows? Maybe one day they’ll be playing at SFU, too.”