By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Although she was on vacation with her family and friends from Diamond 9 Events, All-American softball player Brittany O’Donnell couldn’t resist the opportunity to put on a pitching clinic for some of the young, aspiring players in New Providence.
The one-day clinic was held in the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex on Saturday.
“It was great. They have such a tremendous work ethic and they are really driven to come over and play in the United States,” said O’Donnell of the response she got from the small field of just over 10 players who showed up.
O’Donnell, who hails from New Jersey, played four years of collegiate softball for the Notre Dame Irishmen before taking up a voluntary assistant post after she graduated.
But now, as she pursues her Master’s Degree, O’Donnell is putting her experience to good use as she works as a graduate assistant for the Auburn University Tigers.
In her coaching debut here, she took the players through a basic warm-up drill and she instructed the players’ approach to the game, while her father took the outfielders and gave them some pointers of what to expect at their positions.
“Once we got started, they didn’t want to stop. The biggest thing about women’s softball is making sure you have that work ethic and your academics. They only get to play four years of softball, but if they get their education intact, it will have an impact on their lives for the next 40 years. So softball is a vehicle to get you into college, but while you are in college, you are able to do something that you love, so you have to make the best out of it.”
While O’Donnell spent the time working out with the pitchers, her father dealt with the infielders and outfielders.
Her father, Kevin O’Donnell, heads Diamond 9 Events, which has helped Bahamian Cara Lockhart to secure a scholarship to play for the Crimson Tide women’s softball team at the University of Alabama. It was through Lockhart’s insistence, O’Donnell said they are in the Bahamas.
“We’re going to put on a three-part programme here,” he said. “We’re putting on this clinic for the young softball pitchers. The second part is in June, we will be putting on a coaches’ clinic and then we will put on a tournament with the view of eventually bringing a major division one tournament here with teams from the USA coming to compete against each other.”
O’Donnell said although they are on vacation, they took the time out to meet with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald and the National Sports Authority to present their future plans for the next five years.
The camp was organised by New Providence Softball Association president Godfrey ‘Gully’ Burnside, who is hoping to build on the momentum as they join forces with Diamond 9 Events to put on a major clinic and a tournament next year.
“We had about 12 of the younger pitchers and players in the country, so for a short notice, the response was good. The good thing about it is the pitchers were here and they got a chance to work out with one of the best pitchers who participated in college in the United States,” Burnside said.
“This is something that we have been working on and hopefully we will be able to get them to come back next year with the view of putting on another clinic and eventually stage a tournament that will be a springboard from a similar tournament that they will be hosting in Orlando, Florida.”
Diamond 9 Events is a company run specifically towards softball. They host a variety of events from showcases to college tournaments, mainly at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. Their Sun Classic Fall Showcase has become one of the largest recruiting showcases in the country with more than 200 college coaches attending each year.