Over several years, Greenway Giants Baseball Club had endeavoured to support female participation in sport in the Hornsby Shire by fielding a number of female Softball teams in the Auburn District Softball Summer Competition as well as a large number of females participating in their baseball competition. The club had considerable problems in maintaining sufficient teams in the competition due to the demands on parents in coping with the sporting needs and transport of sons, daughters, fathers and mothers on a Saturday, thus the proximity of playing fields was a major criteria to conducting a successful softball division in the club.
We were of the opinion that we could not hope to achieve a viable softball club, that would grow and prosper, unless we developed a female softball competition for the Hornsby Shire. We had an immensely strong baseball club of over 59 teams, which was predominately for men and had a large number of females also playing as they did not wish or could not play at Auburn. We wanted to provide a similar opportunity for females in the Shire by promoting a summer softball competition that would allow them to play to their ultimate ability and, if gifted enough, proceed to Divisional, State and National representation. Baseball could not deliver this ambition!
Late in 1994, a feasibility study on the possibility of commencing a Softball competition in the Hornsby Shire undertaken by a steering committee.. In November, 1994, the committee presented their findings, which were as follows:
· Seven clubs submitted letters of interest indicating a minimum of 20 teams to commence the competition
· 34 of 38 new female players in Greenway Giants Club indicated their interest in changing to softball in a local area competition. A very high ratio!
· Strong support of players from 30+ schools in the Shire was also evident
· Pennant Hills High School gave permission to use their facilities for a competition.
A steering committee of five, representing local parents and enthusiasts, spent many hours arranging and planning for the launch and to formalise the entry of clubs, gain membership to NSW Softball Association Inc., select our colours, which are Hornsby Shire colours, and Incorporate our Association. In April, 1995, Hornsby District Softball Association Inc. was formed.
In September, 1995, Hornsby District Softball Association Inc. commenced its inaugural competition with a total of seven clubs and 24 teams playing in five divisions catering for 285 players every Saturday in a Summer competition.
In September, 1996, we started the 1996/97 season competition with seven clubs and 46 teams in seven divisions catering for 500 players.Our growth in this season has seen the introduction of our first two Representative teams in the Under 10 and Under 12 divisions playing in the 1997 Northern Metropolitan Championships and the forming of an Under 14 Development squad to train over winter and participate in the 1997 and 1998 Northern Metropolitan Divisional Championships.
Proposed Growth Requirements
During the 1996/97 season we realised that we could not expand our competition and meet the demand of the residents and children of Hornsby Shire without the procuring further playing fields. Our current fields at Pennant Hills High School were restricted to the use of only one of two fields each Saturday morning as we shared one field with Kanga cricket and could only use this second field from 12 noon. This restricted our competition growth!
We were aware of the opening of a new field at Quarry Road Dural and lodged our letter of interest with Hornsby Council for consideration. In July, 1997 we were granted the use of Dural Park for season 1997/98 commencing in September.The field allowed us the space for four International Softball diamonds or eight junior diamonds. This allowed us to meet our strategic goal of increased junior players and a larger senior competition which has increased by a further 10 teams to 51 teams for 1998/99 season thus bringing in valuable softball enthusiasts to the small business community of the Shire and providing a female summer sport to the area at large. This increase in field space will allow the expansion to a full softball association within two years promoting games from Under 10 children through to senior grades and producing Representative players for State and National level, participating in "A" Grade and State League representing the Hornsby Shire.
We commence our season of 1999/2000 with a further increase of ten teams to 61 and 700+ players for the competition. Hornsby Shire Council have completed a new amenities block containing four change rooms, toilets, canteen and storage facilitiy at Dural Park. This will provide welcomed facilities for players, officials, umpires and parents. Our special thanks and appreciation go to the Mayor of Hornsby, Stephen Pringle, Councillor Nan Horne and Parks and Landscape management, Peter Kemp and Geoff Witt for their support and assistance. With the increase of more teams we have been forced look for more playing areas and have been granted the use of Pacific Hills College field in Quarry Road, Dural for our Modball games which will assist our growth requirements.
During 1997, we commenced our representative programme at Hornsby Softball by participating in the Northern Metropolitan Divisional Championships, commencing with Under 10 and Under 12 Teams in February, the Under 14 1997 Team in October, the Under 14 1998 Team in December and the Under 16 Team for the Divisionals in April 1998.
In the 1998/99 season, we made a major effort to increase the expertise and skills of these Representative teams specifically in Batting technique, ball handling and game plays. We also identified a need to prepare our Rep players for the physcology of the game, the loss of focus during a game and their fitness level.