Easton Foundation ISF Softball Youth World Cup had international flair
By GEORGE H. NEWMAN | The Tampa Tribune
Published: January 7, 2011
Don Porter, president of the International Softball Federation, left, and Mike Fennell, the president of the Jamaican National Olympic Committee, center, stands with the team from Brazil which won the Easton Foundation Youth World Cup at Plant City Stadium. The softball federation director of competition, Laurie Gouthro, standing second from the left, joined the celebration
PLANT CITY – Members of the Plant City Legends recently played girls softball teams from around the globe. And they never even left town.
The team participated in a seven-day international girls softball tournament at Plant City Stadium and adjacent Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex.
The Plant City Legends were eliminated early but team representative Holly Arnold said the opportunity was priceless.
“It was amazing, truly a once in a lifetime experience to play teams from all over the world and all over our nation in our home town,” Arnold said. “The girls had so much fun playing. We had fun coaching the game and we all enjoyed meeting new people. Softball is such a great game and it’s nice to see it being played all across the globe.”
The Legends were among 23 teams that took part in the Easton Foundation Youth World Cup for girls ages 16 and under, hosted by the Plant City-based International Softball Federation.
Teams from countries including the U.S., the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Korea, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Russia competed from Dec. 30 to Jan 5.
A team from Brazil defeated one based in Tampa 3-2 in the Jan. 5 championship game.
Bruce Wawrzyniak, a spokesman for the federation, said the World Cup benefited the players and the community.
“These young athletes get to live their dream of participating in an international competition, and travel to the United States and Florida while sharing this experience,” Wawrzyniak said.
The tournament made quite an economic impact on the Plant City area, he said.
“Many of the teams and the umpires stayed in local and nearby hotels. Many of the international teams went on shopping sprees in the area and bought clothes and other items that they might not have in their native countries.”
Don Porter, the softball federation president, said his staff worked overtime to coordinate the fast-pitch tournament.
“Our staff really worked hard preparing and hosting the tournament,” Porter said. “While we enjoyed watching the teams compete we were stretched pretty thin. Some of the staff worked 12 and 14 hour days to keep up with routine demands.”
Porter said the only disappointment regarding the tournament was the lack of volunteers.
“We contacted a lot of groups throughout the area but because of the holidays we didn’t get a very good response,” he said. “But the players put on quite a show.”
The softball federation hosted a solidarity dinner New Year’s Eve at its headquarters in the Plant City Stadium complex.
“The youth teams really interacted during the time they were here,” Porter said. “Both the domestic teams and international teams enjoyed the tournament, and that is what it’s all about. Participating in an international tournament gives the kids a chance to see how their teams can respond to other teams around the world.”
NOTE: Mike Fennell is also president of the Commonwealth Games Federation and member of the IOC Program Commission.