Club Spotlight: Northants Centurions Baseball Club
Fri 25 Nov 2016
In this edition of the Club Spotlight, BSUK Midlands Development Manager Leah Holmes shines the light on the Northants Centurions Baseball Club. Formed only three years ago, the club has embraced the development connections on offer, harnessing the local School Games softball programme to form a new youth baseball team in addition to their adult programme and a slowpitch softball section.
"Northants 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 Holmes.
About the club
The Northants Centurions is a young club, founded in 2013, with 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 in and recruited players in the local area, they do not 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 the past summer season and into the off-season.
One area that has really gained momentum is the development of the club's junior branch, the ‘Mini-Centurions’!
To start with, the club coordinated the Northampton School Games softball event, giving local pupils a taste of diamond sports, and were successful in recruiting a number of new junior members off the back of it. They then expanded on the weekly junior sessions they had 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 able to take a number of players to the Herts Futures Tournament for the first time.
“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," said Coach Paul Rance. "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 benefiting 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, which 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.
Leah Holmes said: “Softball with the Northants Centurions has really taken off. What started as a mainly male group has now turned into a brand new slowpitch team with both male and female players with 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.
"This is an important step," Holmes continued, "as it shows that the club offers playing opportunities to men and women, youngsters and adults. Developing youth and softball sections within the club has really helped our discussions with the council and our County Sports Partnership. It’s helped them to understand that our club is inclusive and welcoming of youngsters and women. It’s also helped us build a club membership of almost 40 – and climbing!”
In order to keep pace with all of this activity, the club has had to expand its Committee and up-skill its coaches. Two coaches have attended the brand new Level Two coaching course recently held in Nottingham and the club has also hosted a ‘Time to Listen’ Safeguarding Course delivered by BSUK staff.
They have also built a strong relationship with their local County Sports Partnership, Northants Sport, which led to their involvement in the School Games. And they were even invited along to the CSP's ‘Women’s Wednesdays’ event to promote their softball sessions.
However, all this is all just the start! Work is now underway on the club's new baseball diamond and the club is working alongside the 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 in the MK Softball League, expanding junior programmes in schools and also working closely with BSUK and Northampton University to support the set-up of a new student team.
Live in Northamptonshire and want to get involved? Check out the Northants Centurions' Facebook page.