Waiarapa Giants are having there 50th year jubilee on Waitangi weekend, 3-5th February 2017.

The format is:

  • Friday a meet and greet 6pm at Kuripuni Tavern

  • Saturday all Giants teams play at home. Saturday night dinner dance at Solway park hotel.

  • Sunday decade photos , social games, invitation game, BBQ.

Please contact Allan Clarke for further information via email here


13 Nov, 2014

Softball is making a welcome return to Rotorua this summer. Former Auckland woman Leigh-Anne Mullins, has led the establishment of Central Bay Softball which has been working with the Rotorua District Council's sports and recreation department to find a new home for the sport.

Softball enjoyed a strong following in Rotorua for several years before folding and a number of members of the new organisation's board were previously involved.

This season the code will be based at Puketawhero Park, which is used for rugby league during the winter months, and Central Bay Softball will run Teeball for children under six as well as junior and senior competitions.

The season is due to start November 1 and run until the end of March next year. Miss Mullins said there had been strong interest, via Central Bay Softball's Facebook page, from potential senior teams.

Schools, pre-schools and sports clubs are being approached this week and the doors will be opened to teams from outside of Rotorua including the likes of Reporoa and Taupo, South Waikato and Kawerau.

Registration nights are being held tomorrow and Thursday (September 24 and 25) from 4pm until 7pm at Puketawhero Park on Vaughan Rd.

Before moving to Rotorua Miss Mullins was involved with the Waitakere Bears Softball Club, helping to rebuild it when it was in danger of folding. It is now one of the biggest and strongest clubs in New Zealand.

All four of Miss Mullins' children play the sport at representative level and when three months ago she was told there was currently no active Rotorua softball league she set about to re-establish the sport.

"I decided to bring the game back to Rotorua and surrounding areas - we have a lot of raw talent here," she said.

"Council has provided us with Puketawhero Park for training and Saturday games - this is an exciting venture and we also have the backing of Softball NZ."

She said it was important to include children's grades to help build a strong future for the sport in her new home town.

"The kids are the future of the sport and getting their interest from a young age will help to ensure softball has a good future here in Rotorua," Miss Mullins said.

She is also keen to get softball played at schools around the district through running tournaments and introducing representative teams.

Rotorua district councillor Charles Sturt, who heads the council's sport and recreation portfolio, said he was rapt to hear that softball would be returning to the district.

"I'm totally supportive. We had a great softball community here some years ago and it's great that someone has taken up the challenge to get things going again - it only takes one person with drive to motivate others so well done to those involved.

"Sharing a venue with another sport, in this case rugby league, is exactly the sort of partnership we need in Rotorua to ensure we have a strong sports base year-round and maximise the use of our sporting facilities," Mr Sturt said.


10 Nov, 2014

Former Black Sox softball pitcher Greg Newton believes he is in the best position to use his skills as coach of the New Zealand boys' under-17 team.
The team left for Sydney yesterday to compete in the International Friendship Series against Australian state teams.

The tournament should see the Kiwis play 10 games in a week, an experience which Timaru-based Newton said would be invaluable.
Newton, who was part of the Black Sox pitching roster when they won the 2000 world championships in South Africa and who has led the Canterbury men's team to national glory during his four seasons as head coach, said he was able to impart more advice on younger players than he could at the highest level.
"I think I'm able to help more when it comes to players of this age," he said. "It's exciting to watch them progress.
"It's about giving them practice and teaching them habits and helping them find their way.
"In the Canterbury men's team we have four Black Sox and I'd be less inclined to tell them how to swing a bat or field the outfield, since I was a pitcher.

"Here it's a bit different. It's about getting them used to scenarios that happen in a game."
Newton said the tournament was a stepping stone for the under-19 programme.

Despite his success with the Canterbury men's side, Newton said he did not intend to put himself in a position for the Black Sox coaching job in the future and was happy working at national age-group level. He said it was important that softball offered young players a pathway so they were not lost to other sports.

One of Canterbury's top young prospects, Bailey Hamilton, who has a strong arm and is quick around the bases, is also a winger for the St Bede's first XV.

Newton said the team would play two warm-up games to start with, then the tournament proper would begin, which also included a game against their Australian counterparts.

Local leaders took to the diamond in a “celebrity” game to support Tairawhiti Softball Association’s new Ease up campaign for alcohol, smoke and abuse-free sidelines. The Leaders Slow Pitch Classic was the highlight of the associations opening at Barry Park, with 20 community, sport, youth and business leaders taking part.
They included newly-appointed deputy mayor Rechette Stoltz, Eastland Community Trust general manager Leighton Evans, The Gisborne Herald editor Jeremy Muir, Formers All White Thomas Edge, Olympic kayaking champion Alan Thompson, Eastern and Central Community Trust chairman Geoff Milner and Lelyanne Jackson from the Ministry of Social Development.
“Softball” is a very family orientated sport so we’re being proactive and taking steps to address sideling behaviour issues, said Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti coaching adviser Ray Noble. “The Support of the community role models for our Ease up campaign added tremendous value to the day”.
Around 700 Softballers attended the opening day and were met with two signs displaying key messages for sideline behaviour, “We wanted the signs to be straight to the point with a sense of humour that keeps things in perspective” said Noble. “They were really well received and set the tone for the positive atmosphere we want to create the Barry Park”.
The signs are also portable and can be moved to wherever bad sideling behaviour is occurring or used as resource at representative tournaments and other venues. There are also designated drinking areas set up at Barry Park, food is provided throughout the day and a series of educational workshops will be run for players and coaches during the season.
“Because we play all out games on the same day at the same venue, we need to make sure we have a family-friendly environment”. Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Brent Sheldrake took part in the celebrity fame and was impressed by softball’s leadership. “Issues around sideline behaviour are experienced across codes nationally, so I really commend softball for being so proactive and driving a campaign to address them.
“The Sport has experienced massive growth in recent years and is moving in a really positive direction. The opening day was a great opportunity for local leaders to get involved and show our support”.



Softball striking the right chord in Tairawhiti        
Mark Sorenson made his international debut for the Black Sox in 1984 at the age of 16.

Over a 21 year career the catcher played in seven world championships – six senior and one junior – winning five titles and placing second in the other two.
mark-for-web He captained New Zealand to consecutive world crowns in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He had an average of .400 or better in four of his seven world champs. He retired having made over 125 international appearances for his country.
Two-time world championship-winning New Zealand coach Don Tricker rated Sorenson and Thomas Makea as the country’s two greatest players.

Sorenson was inducted into the International Softball Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

He was named Black Sox coach in June.

Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson has praised Tairawhiti Softball Association for the work it is doing to revitalise the game in the district.

Sorenson was in the city at the weekend to conduct a skills workshop at Barry Park.

About 140 players, aged from eight to adult, attended, along with coaches. The Saturday sessions were on catching and hitting and on Sunday the focus was on team structure.

“The response was great and we were rapt with the turn-out,” Sorenson said.

The association was to be congratulated on the way it had grown the game, with 40-50 teams set to play this season across all grades, he said.

“What they have done here is quite special. To see growth like that is great and they have a hard core of people making it happen.”

Sorenson was especially impressed with the natural talent he saw over the two days.

“The Gisborne players are very good, especially given the fact they have not had a huge amount of top-level softball here for a while.”

Those involved in the workshop responded well to his guidance, he said.

“Once they got used to me they gave me a bit of stick as well, which was good. They were really keen. They stayed for both days and you have to be pretty committed to do that.”

Sorenson talked about the basic principles involved in good hitting technique.

“Discipline is number one. You need to exercise control over your stroke with good technique and application,” he said.
Practice was paramount.

“Repetition is key. I would regularly do up to 100 batting swings each practice.”

Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker said the weekend went extremely well.

“Mark brought a wealth of knowledge with him. Everything he offered is basically gospel and those who attended took it all in.”

It was special to have the workshop at Barry Park, where Poverty Bay met New Zealand in 1974.

“I played in that game and so did Mark’s father Dave,” Walker said.

Sorenson talked about the work he was doing to prepare the Black Sox for the next world championships in Canada in 2015. New Zealand will be defending the title they won in Auckland this year – beating Venezuela 4-1 in the final.

“We have had some retirements. That’s the nature of sport,” said Sorenson. “But I would expect 10 out of 17 players who won the world title this year to be back again for the next championships in two years. I will be naming a New Zealand squad shortly to prepare for the next world titles.”

Sorenson’s visit was a collaborative effort involving Tairawhiti Softball Association, Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti and the Health Promotion Agency. 

Sorenson helping coaches

Softball legend and Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson will be in Gisborne to run a series of workshops with players and coaches at Barry Park this weekend.

All potential representative players have been invited to take part in the workshops, which will cover batting and fielding fundamentals, catching and team dynamics and drills.

There will also be a session for 25 local coaches about national pathways and how they can achieve higher honours in coaching.
Batting group 3
Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti coaching adviser Ray Noble says the visit is an “amazing opportunity”.

“Mark is arguably the greatest softball player ever and having him here will have a huge impact on our players and coaches,” he said.

Sorenson was appointed coach of the Black Sox this year and during his playing days was considered one of the most dangerous hitters and catchers in the game.

His career highlights include playing in six world championships, his first as a 16 year old, five world championship gold medals, being selected for the All World team 12 times (still a record), and captaining the Black Sox between 1989 and 2001. He was also made a member of the New Zealand order of Merit in 1997.

“Getting Mark here is part of our recruitment and retention strategy for coaches,” Noble said.

“Outlining a national pathway for coaches is critical for retention – it’s the carrot that keeps them in the game.”

Coaches are needed to support this growth sport in Tairawhiti, which has gone from seven kids teams four years ago to 40 teams last year.

Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker said he expected between 40 and 50 teams this year.

“We put our efforts towards supporting schools with their teams and providing coaches,” he said.

“we’re seeing adults who used to play softball now giving back to the sport by encouraging their children to play and coaching their teams at school.”

Softball New Zealand’s softball manager Glen Roff said it was this practical approach that was driving the success of the sport in the region.
“The Tairawhiti Softball Association is sucha proactive association,” he said.

“They’ve had exponential growth, going from two to five representative teams in the past year, whereas they had no rep teams five years ago.”

The association was also proactive in coach and umpire education and had put 60 coaches through training programmes, he said.

“By association standards that’s as good as, if not better than, anywhere else in the country.”

Sorenson’s visit is supported by the Health Promotion Agency, which will also hold a workshop on Saturday around the safer use of alcohol.

Noble said softball was a family oriented sport and was moving in a healthier, more holistic direction.

This sentiment was echoed by Roff.

“We’re a family sport,” he said.

“We’re big on whanau. We’re big on values. It’s an explosive game that’s over in an hour and a half and I think it suits the Gisborne demographic really well.”

Softball players who wish to take part in the workshops with Mark Sorenson need to be at Barry Park at 10am tomorrow. A team dynamics and drills workshop will take place at 11am on Sunday. Members of the public are welcome to watch.