Alyson Spinas-Valainis joins BSUK and BSF as Fastpitch Development Manager

Tue 22 Oct 2019

BaseballSoftballUK and the British Softball Federation are pleased to announce that Alyson Spinas-Valainis has joined both organisations in the role of Fastpitch Development Manager.

The position was created by BSUK and the BSF to promote the growth and development of fastpitch softball in the UK, and was filled from March 2016 to December 2018 by Canadian Johanna Malisani.

Personal history

Born in Iowa, Spinas-Valainis comes to the UK after a collegiate and professional career spanning several countries. In college, Spinas-Valainis played both basketball and softball at Division 1 level at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, near Chicago. Her collegiate career led her to play professional softball in New Zealand for four seasons, followed by two seasons in the Czech Republic, a season in Germany and two seasons in the Dutch Golden League.

Across her professional career, Spinas-Valainis has won an MVP award as a pitcher in 2015, and she was named Playoff MVP during her Czech team’s national title run in 2016, along with winning a European Winner’s Cup medal and a national title in the Netherlands in 2018. Spinas-Valainis started playing softball at age seven.

In addition to her prestigious playing career, Spinas-Valainis has extensive coaching experience across several continents. In New Zealand, she served as the Developing Sox Officer and the Rookie Sox & Emerging Sox Pitching and Catching coach for Hutt Valley, which involved going into schools and working closely with development programmes for girls in lower income areas. Spinas-Valainis then moved to the Auckland Softball Association as a KiwiSpot Facilitator, working in schools and delivering fastpitch fundamentals to students ranging from primary school to college level as well as functioning as the Game Development and Pitching Coach for her club team, Howick.

This work included creating new initiatives and working with already-placed programmes such as the Howick Winter Academy, Annual Have-A-Go Days, and the Howick After School Skill & Game League.

Following her work in New Zealand, Spinas-Valainis headed pitching and catching initiatives in Prague, Czech Republic, working with club members and local members of the fastpitch community ranging in age from 12 to senior level three times a week in after-school clinics.

Current role

In her role with BaseballSoftballUK and the BSF, Spinas-Valainis will be responsible for increasing the number of women and girls playing fastpitch softball, providing targeted support to fastpitch-oriented clubs, improving the quality and quantity of fastpitch pitching, providing operational and technical support to the Great Britain Fastpitch League and playing a lead role in the organisation of the Softball Academy and High Performance Academy. She will also work extensively with GB Fastpitch National Team programme and will take a place on the GB Management Committee.

Spinas-Valainis commented,” I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to represent both  BaseballSoftballUK and British Softball Federation for the next few years, and to work closely with aspiring athletes, especially within the fastpitch world. I hope to be able to continue to refine what is already in place and continue to build pathways within and outside the UK, providing even more opportunities and opening doors for aspiring players. Fastpitch softball has given me a life worth living, traveling and experiencing the world and people in it I would have never gotten to see and meet otherwise. I want this community to continue to grow, develop and thrive, and for athletes to recognise all the opportunities in front of them and be confident enough to grab it and see where it takes them, because if I have learned anything from my own experience, it could truly be anywhere.”

Chris Rawlings, BaseballSoftballUK’s Head of Development, said, “We are delighted to welcome Alyson to the UK as Fastpitch Development Manager. Alyson brings a strong track record with her, both as an elite athlete and as a development-minded coach. Her work in supporting and developing our fastpitch programmes will be crucial in engaging women and girls into softball. From her experiences across the world, Alyson will bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience which can only benefit us here.”

British Softball Federation Administrator Bob Fromer added, “Fastpitch has historically struggled to grow in the UK’s slowpitch-dominated environment, but women’s fastpitch in particular is the world’s key competition format, and if fastpitch is to prosper in the UK, we need someone dedicated to driving it forward.  The BSF is confident that Alyson can take on this challenge and succeed.”

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