Emily started playing softball in 1998, aged 17, as an outfielder for the Canterbury Mets, a recreational slowpitch team in Kent.
In 2001, she took up fastpitch as part of the GB Development Team, and began learning to play first base. By this time she had moved up to A-grade slowpitch, playing one season for the Pioneers, another local Kent team, when they won the National Championship in 2002.
Around this time Emily began coaching junior girls’ fastpitch softball, and was a key figure in developing fastpitch programmes for young girls in West London as a teacher and a coach with BSUK’s Grassroots Fastpitch programme and the Monkeys youth fastpitch team.
For 10 years, from 2003-2012, Emily was a key member of the Baker Tomkins Softball Club. Always a force at National Championships, the team won the European Slowpitch Cup in 2008, and Emily won the MVP, Best Female Batter and Female Slugger awards at the same European club competition in 2009.
After BT disbanded in 2013, Emily joined Slammers and has played first base for them ever since, helping the team to a second place finish in the National Softball League standings in 2015.
Emily’s GB Slowpitch career began in 2003, when she played for a GB second team in the Turkey Shoot competition in Richmond, Virginia. The following year, aged 23, she was selected to the squad for the European Slowpitch Championships in Linz, Austria, and has been a fixture in the team ever since, playing in the last seven European Championships and also in the 2005 and 2014 Slowpitch World Cups in Florida.
Emily and GB outfielder Ruth Macintosh, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, are probably the most-capped GB Slowpitch female players.
In 2011, Emily won the Best Female Batter award at the European Championships and has had the top batting average among GB Slowpitch women players at European Championships in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013, when she hit .682. At the 2008 Europeans, she was given the GB coaches’ Female MVP award.
At the 2014 Slowpitch World Cup in Florida, where GB won the silver medal, Emily produced one of her best fielding displays, and was again given the Female MVP award by the coaches.
Her proudest moment was being made vice-captain for Great Britain at the 2015 European Championships.
An observer writes: Emily Clifford has been a fixture in the GB Slowpitch Team and in A-grade softball for more than a decade, and her tremendous work ethic and desire to improve has made her an outstanding first base player and a tremendously effective hitter, with the ability to hit the ball to all fields and down both lines.
An abiding memory of Emily – and one that sums up her approach as a player – is watching her at a European Slowpitch Championship getting a teammate to throw dozens of balls at and around her feet before a game so she could perfect her technique for picking low throws out of the dirt at first base.
That kind of dedication is unusual in slowpitch softball and explains why Emily has been instrumental for GB in so many European Slowpitch Championship triumphs.
Only a handful of players from Scotland have ever played on the GB Slowpitch Team, and the best of them has undoubtedly been Ruth Macintosh, who has been the team’s outstanding female outfielder and one of its best hitters for over a decade.
A former high-level tennis player who came late to softball, Ruth started playing in 1999 at the age of 25 when a friend asked her to help out his work team. She was hooked on the game immediately and set up her own team to enter the Edinburgh Softball League the following season. That team, the Rejects, went on to win the Edinburgh League, and when they folded after 14 years, Ruth joined another league team called the Souls, who won the Edinburgh League that year for the first time.
In 2000, Ruth, along with other players from Edinburgh who were keen to play more than just local league softball, formed the Chaos softball team, which toured weekend tournaments in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh for over 10 years, winning tournaments in each location. In 2011 Ruth represented Edinburgh in the BSF League All-Star Championships and the team won gold.
Ruth played her first London tournament in 2003, representing Scotland at the Softball World Series, and was spotted by a couple of GB players who recommended her to then GB Head Coach Gary Crock. Ruth was invited to attend a GB training session in January 2004 and became a full member of the squad immediately afterwards and was selected to represent GB at the European Championships in Austria. Although advised by Gary Crock that she was being taken mainly as a pinch hitter, Ruth played herself into the team and was a starter in the final.
Since then, Ruth has represented Great Britain in seven European Championships and played in the final of every one, helping to win gold every time. At the 2010 European Slowpitch Championships in Prague, Ruth captured the Female MVP award.
She has also represented Great Britain twice at the Slowpitch World Cup in Florida and at the ASA Western Nationals, as well as at tournaments in France and Holland.
In 2004, Ruth joined the Slammers to enable her to play A-grade tournaments and was a key figure in the Slammers team that won the National Championship in 2005.
In 2005, Ruth joined the Mad Cows Softball Team to play in the Advertising World Series competition in the United States and played every year thereafter until 2011, when she was inducted into the tournament’s Hall of Fame.
Although she now has two children, aged 1 and 3, Ruth has continued play competitive softball and plans to continue until family circumstances no longer allow it -- at which point she expects to become a taxi driver for her two boys!
An observer writes: The dedication that Ruth had to learn as a promising young tennis player carried over into her softball, where she has always been single-minded and highly professional in her desire to improve as a player, making the journey from Edinburgh to the South week in and week out over the years to play in A-grade and NSL tournaments. You can see the tennis background in her ability to drive balls to every part of the field, and in the outfield, has displayed a consistent excellence: Ruth reads the ball well, has great hands and an accurate arm and is very brave.
Beyond her softball skills, Ruth has been a tremendous teammate in the GB Slowpitch Team programme, and no one is more loved or respected by everyone who has come in contact with her.
Moe has made her mark as a player in both fastpitch and slowpitch softball since coming to the UK in 2002, and while her career on the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team was short-lived (and should have been longer), she was a tremendously productive player with the GB Slowpitch Team for almost a decade, and a key to four of their 10 European Championship triumphs.
As a club player, Moe played with a number of teams early in her British career and won a National Championship with the Stingrays in 2003. But since 2005 she has been a fixture with the Chromies and has played brilliantly, mostly at third base or in the outfield, as the team has won six National Championships in the past nine years.
Moe has also been an important part of the Chromies’ three European Slowpitch Cup triumphs and has won four Softball World Series titles with the Anzacs.
Her expertise in both formats of the sport has been invaluable during her spell as an Assistant Coach with the GB Under-16 Girls’ Fastpitch Team and more recently with the Irish National Slowpitch Team.
Moe has a wonderful understanding of the game to go with her physical abilities: soft hands, a strong and accurate arm, great ability to read balls off the bat in the outfield and the skill to hit consistently and with power to all fields. Above all, she is one of the bravest players that British softball has seen and plays with absolutely no fear.
Moe Flett’s playing career in British club softball is far from over, and anyone wanting to see great skill and game intelligence in action should make the effort to watch her play.
Danny started playing softball in 1999 with a work-based team in Manchester, the GUS Growlers, who won Division 2 in his first season. He went to GB tryouts that autumn and failed to make the grade, but this made him even more determined to improve and he made the squad in 2000.
Since then, as work has taken him round the country, Danny has played with league teams in Manchester, London and Leeds, and with a number of weekend tournament teams. From 2005, he has been a fixture with the Chromies, who have won six out of 10 National Championships during that time.
Danny also met his wife through softball, and they have two children, Sophie (3) and Henry (1) who have already started hitting a softball off a tee in the garden!
Danny has played every position in co-ed and single-sex slowpitch softball except pitcher, and has exceptional skill as a hitter, able to hit line drives with power to all parts of the field. Once he gets on a roll, there is almost no stopping him, and he has excelled as a leadoff hitter for GB over the years, helping the team win four European Championships and a gold medal at the Slowpitch World Cup in 2002.
His achievements in domestic softball include six Division 1 titles in the Manchester Softball League and two in Leeds, several B Nationals titles with Greensox, seven National Championships (six with Chromies and one with Stingrays), multiple gold medals at the Men’s Slowpitch Nationals with the Manchester Hoggs and a large number of other major tournament wins.
In addition, Danny has collected one gold medal and two silver medals with Chromies in the European Slowpitch Cup.
It was Alex Hall who first introduced Danny to softball in Manchester, and since Alex finally lost her fight with cancer, the Manchester softball community has raised over £500,000 for Christies for Cancer Hospital, where Alex was treated over a number of years. Danny is proud to have been involved in this effort.
He is also proud of the lifelong friends he has made through the sport, both in this country and around the world.
Danny’s future softball ambitions include regaining the European Slowpitch Cup this year with Chromies, still playing the sport (at a lower level) when Sophie and Henry are ready to join the Manchester Softball League and coaching to help softball continue to grow and develop.
Andy had originally played baseball with the Arun Panthers Junior Team in Chichester, and got into softball as a college student when he noticed a poster in the window of a sports shop advertising a series of indoor softball training sessions being organised by Solent League founder Chris O’Connor. Andy mentioned this to a few friends and they ended up going along to all 10 sessions, which culminated in an exhibition game on Castle Field in Southsea. By that time, those who had attended the course had split themselves into two teams – the Dodgers and Sharks – and thus the Solent Softball League (SSL) was born.
Because of his baseball background, Andy slipped into the role of coaching the Sharks and then got involved with the early SSL Committee, which consisted of a Chair and a few team captains. His first role was Junior Officer. Then, when Chris O’Connor decided to step down, Andy became the Chair and remained in office for a total of 10 years, during which the league continued to grow and expand.
Since stepping down as Chair, he has continued to sit on the SSL Committee, primarily in the role of Recruitment Officer, where he puts his 21 years of softball experience to good use.
Andy has enjoyed a long career as an excellent player with the Southsea Sharks and the Solent Mariners, and still turns out for the Sharks in weekly league games. As Solent League Chair, however, he brought stability to the league, and also a number of innovations.
These included the creation of the Solent Mariners as a League All-Star Tournament Team, expanding divisions within the league and introducing Indoor softball for recruitment as well as training purposes. Andy has also been central to the ongoing fundraising that the Solent League does on behalf of the Tom Prince Cancer Trust (www.tomprince.co.uk), and supported the BSF when the League hosted the European Slowpitch Championships in Eastleigh in 2008.
Andy was awarded the Glover Cup by the BSF in 2003 for his services to softball organisation, and the Solent League won the League Glover Cup for development achievements in 2005 and 2009.
Andy has written: “I would very much like to continue helping the Solent League to strive and grow, although not necessarily just in terms of simply adding more and more teams each year. It’s important that all the current SSL teams look to create a stronger foundation for themselves and then eventually look to become clubs, consisting of perhaps two or three teams of differing grades. That way they will hopefully become self-sustainable in terms of recruitment and also help provide a natural in-house progression for those players who are looking to advance through the various grades of play (and then hopefully onto GB). It has also long been a dream of mine to see a junior slowpitch / teeball programme created within the SSL – something I may be tempted to take on in the not too distant future!”
Laura Thompson was inducted into the BSF Hall of Fame as perhaps our best-ever home-grown women’s fastpitch player in 2012, and one of the reasons for Laura’s success was certainly her mother, Jocelyn Thompson, usually known as Jos, who has been quietly coaching young female fastpitch players in the UK for almost two decades.
Jos’s whole life has been consumed by sport. Growing up in Zambia, she and her sisters enjoyed school athletics, and Jos later represented Zambia in field hockey and softball, travelling to many parts of the world to compete in international tournaments.
She met her husband Ed during the late 1960s, and they were married in 1975. When Ed retired in 1999, they moved to the UK and settled in Towcester, Northamptonshire.
Jos soon found a hockey and softball club, and with her youngest daughter, Laura, continued playing -- until her knees gave out!
Jos’s eldest sister, Pam, had played for the GB Women's Fastpitch Team in its early days, so the family knew about the GB programme. At 13, Laura was selected to play for the GB Under-16 Team and by the time she was 16 had migrated to the Women's Team.
During this period, Jos helped in various ways as an Assistant Coach to Natalie Fox, and then went on to coach with the GB Under-19 and Under-16 teams for several years. More recently, she has assisted GB Under-16 Head Coach Jeremy Thomas.
During 2013-15 she was part of a programme to roll out softball to schools in Oxfordshire.
Jos has been an active player/coach for her local fastpitch team, the Heyford Diamonds, and during 2015 she helped to start a softball section at her local rugby club and conducted weekly coaching sessions at a local secondary school.
Jos believes that it is important to share the things that others have taught her, and to give her time unstintingly to help other people. The joy she feels in finding just one youngster with potential, and helping develop that into a love of the game, is palpable!
Jos has brought not only a deep knowledge, understanding and love of the game to many of the young players who have passed through GB youth teams, but has always provided players with support, reassurance and confidence through her emotional intelligence, sympathy and optimism.
Jos is the perfect example of the kind of volunteer who is rarely noticed, but whose selfless dedication has enhanced the sport and the lives of those she has coached and mentored.
Sara had a fine career as a player before becoming a Team Manager. She began playing softball in 1996 and played recreationally in the London Surveyors League until recruited by the A-grade team Sixty-Niners in 1998 as a development player. In 2004 she joined Chromies, playing until her retirement from A-grade in 2010. Meanwhile, she continued to play for the Secret Agents Club in the Greater London Softball Mixed League – as she still does today – and was accepted via trials into the GB Slowpitch programme in 2001, playing until 2007.
During that time she took part in two ISF Slowpitch World Cups (and was part of the gold medal-winning team in 2002), an Advertising World Series in Florida in 2005 where the team won silver and Sara was the MVP, tournaments in France and Jersey and two West Coast World Series tournaments in Las Vegas in 2006 and 2007, where she also managed the team.
During her time as a GB player, Sara came into contact with a number of excellent coaches, and Gary Crock was the first to interest her in softball strategy and the importance of the tactical and mental aspects of the game. Gary and Mark Saunders encouraged her early development as a coach, helping her to gain a Level 3 coaching badge.
Sara went on to gain an Assistant Coach position with the GB Slowpitch Team while coaching her GLSML club, running numerous clinics privately and for the BSF and travelling to Switzerland, Belgium and Malta on coaching assignments for the ESF.
She became assistant GB Slowpitch Team Manager in 2006, took the team to Las Vegas two years in a row and supported the then manager, Pearl Bramhall, at the 2008 European Championships.
In 2009 Sara stepped up to the position of Team Manager and took the Main and/or Development Squads to four further European Championships, two ISF Slowpitch World Cups, six Softball World Series tournaments in London and an exhibition tour in the Netherlands, as well as hosting numerous GB Challenge and GB Open tournaments.
Sara has written, “The Team Manager role is often demanding and sometimes stressful, but it offered me the chance to remain connected to the squad beyond my playing days. I wanted to contribute something towards the future and was rewarded with some unforgettable times travelling and training with the team. I learned a lot from other members of staff and the players, and the squad became something of an extended family to me. I have seen so many people achieve so much during my tenure. I’m incredibly proud of them and feel privileged to have played a part in such a successful programme.”
Sara continues to coach and manage at league and tournament level and is now focusing on identifying and developing talent that comes through league play and B and C-grade tournament softball. She also continues to administer the BSF coaching scheme for B and C-grade teams and travels around the country to deliver many of the clinics herself.
In her seven years as GB Slowpitch Team Manager, Sara has been a great example in her dedication to the sport and to the GB Slowpitch Team in particular. She has brought an important professionalism to the role and formed strong relationships with players and other federations alike, helping to raise the profile of the programme.