The final two weeks of October the European Softball Coaches Association (ESCA) hosted their very first training camps. For 5-days each week, 50 players, 33 coaches and 13 trainers from 16 countries, participated in these all-inclusive camps.
Players met daily to train with some of the top coaches in Europe. Leading the players in their training were head coaches of the Italian, Dutch, British and French national teams.
Each morning the players arrived at the training facility and participated in 4-6 hours of skills training. Following a dinner break, they spent their evenings in seminar training that included mental skills and health. There were also round table discussions led by coaches on a variety of team-building and softball life experience topics.
On the final day of the last camp session, Olympic softball player Britt Vonk was on-hand to discuss her softball journey.
The coaches went through their own versions of skills training. In addition to working side-by-side with the lead coaches during the training sessions, their experiences included creating new drills, leading discussions with the players and participating during the guest-speaker presentations. At the end of each evening, there were networking opportunities for coaches to spend time together.
Ami Baran, Secretary General of the European Softball Federation (ESF), who heads up development, initiated the creation of ESCA based on the European Baseball Coaches Association’s (EBCA) model. Together with Craig Montividas, former Dutch national team head coach, they embarked on a 3-year journey to establish ESCA.
These camps are the first official event hosted by the group but plans are already in the works to expand future training opportunities as well as the Association itself.
Baran told EBSM during the camps, “The coaches interest surprised me. They came to learn. It’s really good that they’re here because now the networking can begin.”
Though modeled after the EBCA, there are big differences in the way ESCA will be run. For starters, the training has been expanded to include players, not just coaches. Also, the Association runs in cooperation with the ESF while the EBCA is completely separate from the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB).
These training camps were the first event hosted by ESCA. There are plans in the works to create a certification program that could be recognized by government sports authorities to help coaches with their requirements moving forward. They are also looking to expand the camps to different areas and provide them for a larger age demographic moving forward.