The New Zealand softball community is mourning the sad loss of Linda Wood, a long-time softball journalist and former Softball New Zealand staffer, who has died in Wellington, aged 58.
With a heavy heart, we notify our community of the passing of Linda Wood. Linda was an employee, colleague and friend of the softball community who held administration and media roles within the organisation between 2006-2013. Our sincere condolences are sent to Linda’s son Jessie, and the extended whanau. Softball New Zealand.
Linda began in journalism in the early 1990s as a secondary school’s sports correspondent for The Evening Post, the capital city’s afternoon daily.
She impressed with her enthusiasm and commitment to her craft to earn a staff sport’s writer’s position.
Linda enthusiastically embraced softball as one of her key rounds, developing a deep affinity for the game - both men’s and women’s softball
Over a number of years she built a considerable knowledge, made a broad range of softball contacts throughout New Zealand and was a familiar face around the diamonds where her cheerful grin and quick quips made her many friends.
Linda was respected in the sports journalism industry and won the NZ Softball Writer of the Year award in 1996, one of four Post sports writers to win national accolades that year.
She remained a proud Post staffer till 2002 when the paper merged with The Dominion. Linda maintained her association with The Dominion Post, covering Wellington and Hutt Valley softball as a ‘stringer’.
Aware the Black Sox were on the brink of an historic ‘threepeat’ of world titles, Linda remained determined to cover the 2004 men’s world championships in Christchurch.
The Dom-Post sent a sports staffer as their official representative, but Linda found her way south as the New Zealand correspondent for a newspaper based out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
In typical Linda fashion, she got a couple of good “scoops’’ because the Canadian player sent off after a scuffle with the Black Sox in the playoffs, was a Moose Jaw policeman! Linda was the only journalist he spoke to, from memory, such was her tenacity.
Linda continued to serve The Dominion Post as a youth sports correspondent and some of the current Black Sox and White Sox players were profiled by her after making national age-group sides.
Senior Stuff journalist Richard Ives, who worked alongside Linda in the Wellington sports team, said: "For many years, she covered college sport for the Wellington newspapers, a task she undertook with her trademark diligence and dedication. It could be a challenging role, with schools vying keenly for coverage of their students’ success, but Linda showed a knack for highlighting the most notable achievements and with sensitivity and knowledge.’’
Linda’s love of softball manifested in a staff job with Softball New Zealand as office manager from 2006 to 2013, leaving only after an office restructuring.
In more recent years, she worked in various roles, including as a teacher’s aide, and remained very proud of her son Jesse’s achievements.
But, she never lost her high regard for our sport, often messaging softball friends about the game’s latest developments right up to, and beyond, the recent men’s World Cup in Auckland. Canterbury Softball chief executive and former White Sox national coach Cheryl Kemp had a long association with Linda.
“Her knowledge was under-rated by many,’’ Cheryl said. “I always thought her questions were well-researched and I had a high level of respect for her work.
“She was also a very nice person who I thought of more as a friend than a colleague.
“She will be missed.’’
A funeral service will be held at 1pm, Thursday 16th March, St. Hilda’s Anglican Church, Island Bay. Followed by a private cremation.
Click here to watch the funeral remotely.