As The Who used to sing, “The kids are alright.” The kids being New Zealand’s U18 squad from the International Softball Academy (ISA), who are in North America for a two week tour. The squad arrived last Wednesday, based in Anaheim (near Disneyland, of course). They traveled up to Santa Barbara last weekend, and played in one of California’s open level tournaments, the Best of the West. The boys came away without their first win, but competed very well against some very tough competition. Clyde Bennett, his son, pitcher Mark Bennett, Santa Barbara pitcher Clayte Robinson and others rolled out the hospitality mat for the kids, arranging for a pre-game meal, and housing for the young men while they were in Santa Barbara.
Doubleheader Tonight, 7:00 PM at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA
Tonight, Wednesday, June 10, 2015, they’ll be in Long Beach, California, playing an exhibition doubleheader at 7:00 pm against the 2013 NAFA “A” National Champions, the Long Beach Wolfpack. Jesse Mullen’s Wolfpack squad will return most of its roster from that national championship squad. We’re told that Team USA’s Kevin Castillo, who grew up and lives in Long Beach will be suiting up for the Wolfpack. Kevin was in Sonora, California last weekend, with the Cal A’s, as he readies for the upcoming WBSC World Championships in Saskatoon June 25-July 5.
Editor’s note: Local So Cal players and fans are invited to the games tonight at El Dorado Park. Put 2800 Studebaker Road, Long Beach into your GPS. Take the service road to the dead end at the field. Come on out and show your hospitality to the New Zealand junior squad, and the Wolfpack.
Our chat with ISA New Zealand Manager Craig Waterhouse:
How was the Best of the West tournament in Santa Barbara?
“It was exactly the event we needed as a build up for Vanvouver. Not normally something you say about losing, but we achieved are huge amount. It was the first time they had played together so it was ideal.”
How do the kids like California/USA?
“I am surprised how much shopping they want to do. They have being twice to the Home Run Monkey store, they called into two malls on the way home from Santa Barbara. They only lasted four hours at Disneyland just too hot.”
What’s on the agenda for your tour here?
“Disneyland tonight then back into training in the morning, a cooked lunch then Long Beach for a swim and the Wolfpack games tomorrow then we fly to Vancouver Thursday afternoon.”
What got you (as coach) involved in the program?
Manager Rob Siolo: “I started coaching ISA New Zealand teams in 2008, just love what we can achieve with the kids in this type of structure involvement. This is my 6th ISA New Zealand team tour.”
What are you hoping for the kids tonight against the Long Beach Wolfpack?
“We would like to get to Vancouver with a win, but the important thing is that we improve from the Best of the West Tournament particularly in knowing what to do before the play.”
ISA New Zealand will fly out of LAX on Thursday afternoon and land in Vancouver at approx 7am Thursday. The team is being hosted by the Fleetwood Assn with their first game Friday night.
Said one of the team’s Santa Barbara hosts, pitcher Clayte Robinson:
“The New Zealand ISA 18U team. Great group of ball players and management. Represented themselves and their country extremely well. Safe travels and best of luck in Vancouver!!. This won’t be the last time I say this but in my softball playing/coaching career, the most important thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about the wins and losses but about the friends you make along the way.”
Head Coach: Rob Siolo – Rob coached the Samoan National Team at the World Series in 2013 and in the qualifying series last year. He has coached numerous Wellington and Hutt Valley provincial teams, and is currently Head Coach of Johnsonville men’s team in the Wellington competition.
Assistant Coach: Fred Redhead – long standing coach from Alberta, Fred was Assistant Coach of the Canadian U19 team at the last Junior World Series. He also coached the ISA New Zealand U21 team that attended the U21 International Tournament in Saskatoon in 2013, finishing second. Fred will join us in Vancouver
Assistant Coach/Trainer: Te Rangi Chadwick is player coach of the Vikings team that plays in the Wellington Intercity Competition and also of the Fastpitch Club side in the Hawkes Bay competition. A former New Zealand Junior Black Sox team member, Te Rangi is on his way to play the offseason in Ontario, and will join us for the LA and Santa Barbara leg
Scorer/Manager Diane Waterhouse – Diane has being the manager, scorer and chaperone of many ISA teams. Parents’ appreciate the significant increase in communication when Diane is on tours. The updating of photos and results on facebook is continual. She has started using Game changer to score games and updates the game action online also. A comment from the recent tour was. “Thanks for all the updates it was as close as we could get to being their”
Manager: Craig Waterhouse – Having managed and coached numerous ISA teams in both Canada and Australia, Craig is well skilled to ensure the boys are supervised and controlled. Craig is in charge, with Diane of the tour and all matters off the diamond and outside of training. A former Softball NZ Board member and Softballer of the Year, he is a well experienced softball administrator