Focus on home runs, not outs

COLUMN

“Focus on what we do have, not what we don’t” — some very wise words from Mark Sorenson, the coach of the New Zealand Black Sox. The team was in town last weekend for a training camp.

Mark certainly knows what he is talking about as he has worked hard to create and build a team that are arguably the most successful sports team in New Zealand and indeed the world. He is one of the most decorated softball players in the world and his accomplishments are many, including captaining the Black Sox team from 1989 until the beginning of 2001. He led his team to victory at the world championships in 1996 and 2000. He returned to the team in 2004 when they became the first team ever to win three consecutive Softball World Championships. To cap his successful sporting career, Mark recently claimed the No. 51 spot in the book NZ’s 100 Top History Makers in Sport.

Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker had this to say: “With the huge growth of softball in the region it has been a great start to the new season, a great workout for the new softball diamond but most importantly a great way to showcase the sport of softball with the most successful men’s softball team in the world.”

“If you build it they will come,” was the comment from Softball NZ chief executive Tony Giles, who spoke very highly of those who have made the reality of a skin diamond happen here in Tairawhiti.

“It is very satisfying to support Tairawhiti Softball Association in this manner. Tairawhiti is an association leading by example not only on the diamond but also off the diamond through volunteer and development programmes. Part of their success is due to a strong community focus and a close working with Sport Gisborne.”

I had the privilege of sharing a meal with the team and also sharing some community time with them as they trained on the new diamond — it was simply amazing. The locals were treated to an awesome display of talent and flair from the world’s best, and it was evident that this training camp would leave a long-lasting impression on those locals who truly love and support the sport.

Focusing on what we do have here in Tairawhiti can be a challenge at times as we are often confronted with many reports that tell us all about the deficits, or what we don’t have. It has been highlighted more than enough that we are one of the regions with the highest rates of poverty and constantly headline as a place where Maori are at risk of a multitude of illnesses and poor outcomes. Having a sense of hope that things can change for the better, or even shift a little, can at times seem as difficult as hitting a home run.

So when we have the best men’s softball team train in our backyard, it has an amazing impact. It inspires and gives hope to a number of whanau as they get to spend time up-close and literally in the dugout with their heroes. It was such a beautiful sight to see our local softball whanau playing ball with the best.

Hearing the youth talk about meeting the team and also having the chance to be challenged that they could, if they put the time and energy into it, play for one of the nation’s teams was very inspiring.

We now have a responsibility as a community to support these rising stars and their whanau, as sport has a powerful ability to effect positive change.

“Focus on what we do have, not what we don’t” — some very wise words from Mark Sorenson, the coach of the New Zealand Black Sox. The team was in town last weekend for a training camp.

Mark certainly knows what he is talking about as he has worked hard to create and build a team that are arguably the most successful sports team in New Zealand and indeed the world. He is one of the most decorated softball players in the world and his accomplishments are many, including captaining the Black Sox team from 1989 until the beginning of 2001. He led his team to victory at the world championships in 1996 and 2000. He returned to the team in 2004 when they became the first team ever to win three consecutive Softball World Championships. To cap his successful sporting career, Mark recently claimed the No. 51 spot in the book NZ’s 100 Top History Makers in Sport.

Tairawhiti Softball Association president Walton Walker had this to say: “With the huge growth of softball in the region it has been a great start to the new season, a great workout for the new softball diamond but most importantly a great way to showcase the sport of softball with the most successful men’s softball team in the world.”

“If you build it they will come,” was the comment from Softball NZ chief executive Tony Giles, who spoke very highly of those who have made the reality of a skin diamond happen here in Tairawhiti.

“It is very satisfying to support Tairawhiti Softball Association in this manner. Tairawhiti is an association leading by example not only on the diamond but also off the diamond through volunteer and development programmes. Part of their success is due to a strong community focus and a close working with Sport Gisborne.”

I had the privilege of sharing a meal with the team and also sharing some community time with them as they trained on the new diamond — it was simply amazing. The locals were treated to an awesome display of talent and flair from the world’s best, and it was evident that this training camp would leave a long-lasting impression on those locals who truly love and support the sport.

Focusing on what we do have here in Tairawhiti can be a challenge at times as we are often confronted with many reports that tell us all about the deficits, or what we don’t have. It has been highlighted more than enough that we are one of the regions with the highest rates of poverty and constantly headline as a place where Maori are at risk of a multitude of illnesses and poor outcomes. Having a sense of hope that things can change for the better, or even shift a little, can at times seem as difficult as hitting a home run.

So when we have the best men’s softball team train in our backyard, it has an amazing impact. It inspires and gives hope to a number of whanau as they get to spend time up-close and literally in the dugout with their heroes. It was such a beautiful sight to see our local softball whanau playing ball with the best.

Hearing the youth talk about meeting the team and also having the chance to be challenged that they could, if they put the time and energy into it, play for one of the nation’s teams was very inspiring.

We now have a responsibility as a community to support these rising stars and their whanau, as sport has a powerful ability to effect positive change.

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