Tenth birthday celebrated in style at Awards night
The annual awards for the MK Softball League were recently handed out at the end-of-season do at the Brewhouse & Kitchen, but we also marked ten years of softball in Milton Keynes at a special double celebration.
A total of 45 guests sat down for the speeches - each greeted by party bags and MK softball bingo cards. Chairperson Leah Holmes took us on a trip down memory lane, starting in May 2011, as a fresh faced Jon Reynolds, chairman of MK Baseball Club, launches a ‘softball for beginners’ course aiming to expand the clubs membership and get more people involved in the sport. The course is a success attracting such longstanding players such as Leanne, Robyn and Adam. By popular demand the sessions continue for the rest of the summer, and the players formed the first ever MK Diamonds team to play in the Cotswold tournament later that year. The rest, they say, is history, with 2016 seeing the creation of the MK Softball League and first inaugral teams. Since then the Homerun Hornets, the OddSox, and most recently the Roundabout Rhinos have gone on the win the championship. Over that time we have developed a full indoor league, run three Codebreakers Cups and travelled around the country playing tournaments at all levels. It's been quite a journey...
2020: A **** year
Of course 2020 wasn't a vintage softball year and Sam Gibson recalled some of the activities that took place to keep spirits up - from Netflix nights to exercise challenges. However, lots of hard work was going on behind the scenes - not least from Sam - who started the neccessary risk assessments needed to resume training, which took place later in the summer. As our very own version of Chris Whitty, she did a great job to get small group training back underway to blow off those softball cobwebs. But, after just four indoor sessions, the C-word struck again, but this didn't keep us down as we celebrated Christmas with a festive curry and quiz.
2021: Back with a bang
Thankfully, 2021 has been a lot more positive and Leah was able to share some of the numbers that tell the story of our season, including:
1 online AGM
5,465 miles travelled by members in lockdown for our mileage challenge
19 new league members
62 MK members in total (the most ever)
1 new kit shop launched
3 new umpires
2 new coaches
1 new first aider
1 lightning strike
9 tournaments played
18 pizzas ordered
2 miliion pounds (approx.) spent on WW2 themed essential equipment
1 hugely successful Codebreakers Cup
1 happy chairperson
The obligatory thank yous then took place to mark the efforts of all players, captains, coaches, umpires, first aiders, and committee members. who make things possible. The biggest thank you (and standing ovation) of the night was, of course, for Leah. She truly is a tour de force and has been integral to literally everything we do (including reminding me to write this article!).
The MKSL Awards
Next, it was the main event, the 2021 Awards. Chris Borah and Jon Reynolds shared the Big Ball Home run title and Chris Benton was named snazziest dresser. Here were the nominees for the other awards...
And the winners were...
Rookie: Sean McGinn, Most Improved: Jake Clarke, Small Ball MVP: Hannah West, Big Ball MVP: Adam Bee and League Member: Fyona Shannon.
Congratulations to everyone who was nominated, or who won an award. Each was throughly deserved, not least Sean for his boundless enthusiasm and tendency to bellow "ODDSOX!!!" down the nearest earhole. The night also marked the outdoor league retirement of everyone's favourite Northerner, Jules Peck. He'll still be around at indoor and training, but the Hornets won't be the same without him. Also announcing his retirement is Tim Welch - an OddSox champion of 2018 - who will no doubt continue to follow the efforts of Nikki and Rob in the league.
And a final thank you to Kat Newman - our fantastic social secretary - who played a huge part in organising the night and making it a fantastic success. There is so much that goes into a organising an event like this - from Jod's amazing softball cards to Jake overseeing the financials. A fantastic team effort as always.
As I had a long week with some late nights, I didn't stay too late - but I am sure everyone had a great and night and didn't get at all inebriated... We are looking forward now to the indoor league, so see you at Radcliffe School!
In the meantime, enjoy some of the photos, courtesy of Luke Gibson.