The softball season is well and truly underway which means a big focal point of the sport in our country have started to pop up too – tournaments.
Tournaments, whether it be at a Premier level, representative level, or club grade level, are special weekends in any softballer’s calender.
Whether it be to scope out the competition from around the country before Club Nationals, trying to prove yourself to NZ selectors for any given team or simply catching up with a few mates you haven’t seen in a while, there’s a certain magic with tournaments.
I think what is amazing about tournaments is that they each have their own identity enough to make each one exciting to be part of, rather than another long weekend sacrificed as some outsiders would probably see it.
Take, for example, Auckland United’s Vic Guth.
“The Guth” is prestigious Premier Men’s tournament that top clubs from around the country strive to win. To say you’ve won one is to say you’ve beaten the best at the country in a high-stakes weekend of fast-paced action. The same can be said for the PK tournament in Wellington too.
Then there’s tournaments like Howick’s Bev Smith Memorial.
Another Premier tournament but when you see the bright pink shirts of the Howick Premier women, the laughter during games and numerous pink accessories from visiting teams all to raise breast cancer awareness – you get a sense this tournament is about more than just winning.
I was a bit heartbroken to see the Dean Schick, another top tournament out at North Harbour, had been reduced to four teams this year.
The Schick is right up there with the likes of the Guth and PK, even hosting international teams in the past. Yet, for one reason or another, it had to halve its numbers. I can only hope this was a one-off and other tournaments aren’t made to have the same fate. The more the merrier, in every essence of that saying.
Even if I’m not in a tournament, I always try me best to go out and watch them regardless. I recommend the same to anyone I see as well that asks.
Between top talent facing off against each other, a scorching summer’s day to tan under and an ice cold beer (*or non-alcoholic beverage) to enjoy at the clubrooms – what more could a member, playing or spectating, of the softball community want?
Even when the weather doesn’t play it’s part, that’s when you get dugout dance offs and team-bonding sessions huddled around a speaker. It’s all part of the tournament experience.
To parents of up-and-coming talent, I implore you to take your child to a tournament any chance you get. Let them see. Let them learn. Let them experience. Each tournament each year has it’s own stories and you get a free pass to witness it if you just head along!
If you’re lucky enough you or your child could one day be part of those stories or even better, write the definitive chapter.