52NEW ~ Learn to pitch!

Perhaps “learn to pitch” might be a bit more than what I learned to do, but I did learn to throw a ball from a pitcher’s mound to the plate.  The question is could I do it in front of 2 ball teams and an audience.

Total distance = 60 feet 6 inches!

Here’s the deal. I am NOT a team sports kind of gal. The thought of a whole team depending on me to get the job done, or worse me depending on other people to get something done makes my skin crawl. That obviously is a conversation for physciatrist at a later date, but what it does mean is I have never really participated in some of the more traditional sports.. basketball.. soccer.. baseball! I have had limited experience with these sports because of gym class as a kid.. but that’s about it. So when the oppurtunity arose to throw out the first pitch at a Falcons game I knew it would be perfect for 52NEW!

Sometimes we forget how close an “expert” is in anything we might want to do.  I pondered who I knew that not only could teach me how to pitch the distance required but who I would also be comfortable with. There was only one answer: Joni Frei! Not only is Joni a blast and one ofthe most positive people I know but she also happens to be an owner of “Beyond the White Lines” and “Okanagan Elite Softball” If you have a girl/women in your life that plays ball make sure to check out what they have to offer.

Here is Joni’s bio:

Joni graduated with a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Health Sciences with Teacher Certification from Georgia College & State  University.  There she helped lead her team to a 2nd place finish at the  NCAA National Tournament. Joni broke a number of school  records at Georgia College & State University including homeruns,  walks, RBI’s and runs scored.  She was the recipient of many prestigious  academic and athletic accolades including NCAA National Tournament Team,  All Conference Player Awards, University Athlete of the Year and  Department of Health Sciences Student of The Year, her senior year.  After graduation Joni moved to Europe to play in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.  

Upon the end of her competitive playing career she returned to the  United States to pursue a career in coaching as an assistant with  Kennesaw State University under Hall Of Fame Coach, Scott Whitlock. At  Kennesaw State University Joni earned a Master’s degree in Political  Science with a concentration in Public Administration. Joni has coached  at all levels of softball including serving as the head coach of the  Austrian National Team, Assistant Coach for Division I Kennesaw State  University, Assistant Coach for Division I Mercer University, Assistant  Coach for NAIA Reinhardt College and Assistant Coach for Georgia  Military College.

Currently Joni is serving as the Owner/Technical Director of Beyond The White Lines Softball Academy in Kelowna, British  Columbia, Canada, Head Coach of  The Okanagan Elite Softball Association,  CANPitch Regional Pitching Instructor for Softball Canada as well as  Softball B.C. Learning Facilitator and Assistant Softball Coach for Team  BC.

Impressive? YES! She is an amazing teacher. By the time we were done (and we only had about 45 minutes to get this done) Jenn who was doing the camera work felt like she could throw the ball properly just from listening! (Butterfly… Hips… Arm. Elbow UP!) Joni’s wonderful spirit translates into her girls; polite, beautiful, talented and supportive!! What a great organization!

My first team picture!

Sorry Joni, I never did master the scowl and spit..

I also turned to my former coworker Ryan “Two T’s” Watters! I worked with Ryan years ago at SUN FM where he was one of Kelowna’s favourite personalities! He has since moved on to work with  UBC Okanagan and The Kelowna Falcons, he also takes care of some sport’s duties on our sister station AM1150.

Here’s a little chat we had on SUN FM:   Susan and Ryan talk Baseball!

I am MORE intimidated than at the Powerlifting competition!! All those guys out there in matching uniforms and people in the stands.. the chatter in the back of my head is a constant loop of “What were you thinking? “Don’t mess up!” “DO NOT cry if you do!”

Good news was the amazing cheering section that came with me, Jenn, Anthony, Debbie, Lynda, Dan and my wonderful Steve! Debbie even took some time with me so I could practice a few pitches before hand! (side note: we learned I can NOT pace out 60 feet, my practise pitches were more like 120 feet!) They gave a great cheer as my name was called! I was thrilled to see some other familiar faces as well including, fans of the station, a friends parents, Randy from The Gospel Mission and even some of my friends kids!

What an awesome cheering section!

Interesting.. The crowd didn’t intimated me as much as the very polite, nice and patient (did I mention cute) ball players did!

Check out my journey top learn how to throw a ball… and find out if I managed to make it over the plate!