Horsham Baseball and Softball Club aiming to rise again

Tue 11 Sep 2018

Horsham Baseball and Softball Club has spent the past 18 months re-forming and re-focusing its priorities to once again become a key club in the town’s sporting landscape, offering both youth baseball and adult softball.

Paul Taylor from Horsham District Council and colleagues such as Kim Roberts have worked closely with BaseballSoftballUK to set up a series of development programmes, detailed below, which are contributing towards shaping the latest version of club.

Primary schools baseball programme

Utilising BaseballSoftballUK’s Junior Club Development Programme, which offers subsidised equipment, and with support from Horsham District Council’s Sports Development Team, the club has been able to expand its weekly schools sessions in Horsham and the surrounding area to form after-school clubs and set up local competitions.

It is hoped that some of the students will want to follow a longer-term path and join the club's junior baseball programme when it officially launches in 2019.

The schools where baseball sessions have taken place include Castlewood School, Upper Beeding School, Greenway School, St Robert Southwell School and St Margaret’s School.

Baseball sessions have also taken place during the summer holidays with workshops at Collyers College and Forest School, where the children were taught how to throw, catch and hit, and finished by playing some fun games.

Adult softball

Now into its third summer, the club's adult softball team, the Horsham Broncos, continues to grow.

With weekly sessions running in Horsham Park through the summer, the softball team is open to anyone 16 years and over.  The Broncos will be taking part in a showcase game against the Chichester Falcons at noon on Sunday 30 September in Horsham Park as part of the town's annual 'AmeriCARna Festival', which will provide another opportunity to promote the club and the sport to the local community.

Workforce development

Supporting the upskilling of volunteers and paid coaches is crucial to developing the club and its programmes.

In 2017, Kim Roberts completed her Level 2 coaching course and has been the lead coach for the adult softball programme as well as delivering sessions at secondary schools, including a Satellite Club-funded softball programme at Millais School.

Another coach, Joanne Watkinson, will complete her Level 2 course this autumn and will then take on the lead coaching role for the new junior programme starting in spring 2019.  It is anticipated that volunteers and new committee members will be identified among the adult softball members and parents of the junior members.

Home diamond

The home of baseball in Horsham since 2008 has been Ingfield Manor School.

Until recently, the school was a charity, but it has now been taken over by a private company that has plans to develop the school and facilities, and this has resulted in the club needing to relocate.

Until a new home diamond is found, the baseball and softball sessions are taking place in Horsham Park, a beautiful park right in the middle of Horsham, within walking distance from both the train station and the town centre.

Building the future

Paul Taylor, Sports Development Officer for Horsham District Council, said, “Having been involved in helping to set Horsham Junior Baseball Club up in 2005, it has been hard for me to see the number of junior players decrease over the last couple of years.  At its peak in 2009 there were almost 250 boys and girls playing baseball in Horsham and over 30 went on to play baseball and softball for Great Britain. 

"We hope to be able to bring the glory days back and to recreate the excellent atmosphere where over 500 people would attend for game day on a Saturday with music and the BBQ helping to entertain everyone.  We look forward to welcoming new players to the club in 2019, and hopefully parents will become inspired to help out and become coaches to grow the club and contribute towards it once again being a club that the residents in the Horsham district can be proud of."

Anyone interested in playing junior baseball or adult softball in Horsham should contact Paul Taylor on 01403-215637 or paul.taylor@horsham.gov.uk.

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