GB Slowpitch selections are announced

Thu 18 Jun 2020

Despite the fact that there will be no international slowpitch play in 2020, the GB Slowpitch staff has announced the team it had selected for this year’s European Men’s Slowpitch Championship and successful triallists for the GB Co-ed Slowpitch squad.
 

GB Slowpitch Men’s Team

Earlier this year, just before the world essentially closed down due to Covid-19, Open Trials for the GB Men’s Slowpitch Team took place in Rickmansworth, with the expectation that the team would be mounting a defense in Italy this summer of the title it won at the first-ever European Men’s Slowpitch Championship in 2018. 

Team Manager Kellie Whitaker said, “As Covid-19 cases were growing across the globe, but especially in Italy at the time, we were very mindful of the health and safety of our players and staff, as well as the families and friends of all involved.  As a result, the decision was made to postpone any announcement of the GB Squad to ensure that no player would have to make the tough decision of “go or no go” if in fact the tournament was to go ahead.  Since then, of course, the Men’s Slowpitch Euros along with tournaments in all sports and disciplines around Europe have been cancelled or postponed.”

GB Slowpitch Head Coach Stephen Patterson was philosophical about the situation: “It’s all about how you look at it.  I consider it as ‘GB holds on to the Men’s trophy for another year’ or ‘It will take more than a global pandemic to wrestle the title away from GB’.”

The team

Although there is no indication yet when the next European Men’s Slowpitch Championship will be held, it remains an honour to be selected to play for your country and the GB staff feels that it’s important to recognise the accomplishment of the players selected by announcing the squad that would have competed this summer.  The players are:

Luis Arrevillagas                               
Mark Bowman                 
Joe Grantham                  
David Grey                         
Kelvin Harrison                 
Adam Haywood
Steve Hazard                    
Mike MacDowell             
Dan Patterson
Josh Smith
Dan Spinks                           
Robbie Studholme
Aaron Thomas                  
Matt Tomlin                      
Duncan Waugh                
Chris Yoxall                        

Two reserve players selected for the squad were:

George Bartlett
Kris Hadwin

The staff for this summer’s tour would have been:

Head Coach
Stephen Patterson

Assistant Coach
David Lee

Team Manager
Kellie Whitaker


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Stephen Patterson said, “The success of the squad in 2018 was a remarkable experience in bringing the first European Men’s Slowpitch Gold Medal home to Britain.  The message of being ‘the first’ was a key driver in those Championships, and now – whenever the tournament is held -- we will be the first to defend it.

“So many of the players in that 2018 squad had never played in a European Championship before that tournament,” Stephen added, “but what a way to cut your teeth in a big competition.  With the selections for this year’s squad we have added depth with experience and some fine young talent.”

Kellie Whitaker said “There are so few opportunities to showcase our GB National Teams in major competitions.  The players invest so much time and effort in ramping up their preparations, and though we understand the reasons why, it’s a real disappointment that we’re not heading to Italy this summer after finally having a Men’s Euros in 2018.  We put a great bunch of players together this year to defend the title.”

 

GB Co-ed Slowpitch trials

Trials were also held before the lockdown for new players hoping to be selected for the GB Co-ed Slowpitch squad, and for existing members of the squad who were asked to re-trial.

In late spring, the successful triallists were told of their inclusion within the GB Development Programme.  This makes them eligible for selection to represent Great Britain in any domestic and international competitions that might occur in 2020 and beyond.  However, a wider announcement was postponed due to the impact of the pandemic on sports in the UK and around the world.

Team Manager Kellie Whitaker said, “We were paying close attention to the information being shared in relation to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and across Europe.  It’s been a difficult window to plan for and to ensure we managed appropriate engagement with our players.  The squad has been great in the meantime.  As Britain begins to open up its restrictions, it seems the right time to share news of our exciting new entrants.”


Success

The successful triallists who have been added to the GB Slowpitch squad are:

Bruce Candlish
Adam Haywood
Katie Jessop
Ian Kulka
Tom Russell
Charlotte Sykes

A number of existing GB Slowpitch squad players who were required to re-trial have also made the grade again.  They are: 

George Bartlett
Leonie Colley
Macy Cortez
Kat Golik
Joe Grantham
Becky Green
David Grey
Kris Hadwin
Tash Humphris
Sherry Kenyon
Daniel Patterson
Crista Reed-Thomas
Joshua Smith     
Zara Wallin

In addition to those players that were successful in the 2020 Open Trials, the coaches have committed seeking out “reserve” opportunities for individuals who had planned to attend the final trial session in March which was cancelled due to Covid-19.


Preparation

Since the selection announcement to players, GB Slowpitch staff members have attempted to maintain engagement and integrate the new players into the squad during a rather unique spring.

Stephen Patterson said, “I have been impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of all the players during this unscheduled break from the game.  I am confident of GB success when we can get back on the diamond.”

Several of the new players were involved in action at GB Spring Training events and had been earmarked for inter-squad teams that would have played at the GB Challenge Tournament in April at Farnham Park and/or gone on a planned exhibition tour in Belgium.  All of these players will hopefully vie for a roster spot on the GB Development Team at the World Series tournament in September if the competition goes ahead and compete for selection on the GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team that will travel to competitions in the future.

Assistant Coach David Lee said, “We have had to think a little differently this year as a result of social distancing and health precautions.  I’m looking forward to working with these new players and seeing their talent progress as we go further into the year.  Our selections in this window continue to see youth entering the GB programme.”
 

Looking for support

The GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team is currently ranked No. 1 in Europe and No. 4 in the world and is looking for a new Title Sponsor. 

Anyone interested should contact Kellie Whitaker or Stephen Patterson.

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