Joni Frei had many rewarding experiences as both a player and a coach in NCAA women’s softball in the United States.
By hosting the Beyond the White Lines Softball Camp next week, the Kelowna native is hoping to help other young Canadian women enjoy the same benefits she did for more than a decade south of the border.
Frei, along with assistant Dani Damel and several guest coaches and players, will stage the six-day camp Aug. 5 to 10 at Kings Stadium in Kelowna.
Nearly 70 players from across Western Canada, including 20 from the Okanagan, will be exposed to top level coaches, to both enhance their skills and to gain some insight on how to best pursue a U.S. college scholarship.
Coaches from Florida’s Embury Riddle Aeronautical University and Louisburg in North Carolina, as well as a recruiter for a number of Georgia schools will all be on hand for the camp.
In-depth seminars detailing the recruiting process will held throughout the week.
“One of the goals is to motivate and inspire these girls, show them what’s possible,” said Frei, who starred as a player at Georgia College and State University.”What I find is that everybody likes the idea of a college scholarship, but doesn’t know how to get one. We try and show them what it takes, the tough workouts you’re going to face, etc. There are so many opportunities out there, it’s just a matter of showing them what they need to look for.”
Another aim of the camp is to help Frei and her staff evaluate potential players for the Canada Futures all-star team which will tour Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina for a series of exhibition games in October.
A possible trip to Italy in 2014 is also in the works for the Canada Futures program.
Along with Frei and Damel, former college all-star Jaimie Murrant will be providing her expertise at the camp, as well as players from the Douglas College program.
While the older players from 15 to 18 are looking ahead to college or possibly a spot on the Canada Futures team, Frei hopes younger players at the camp will both improve their skills and gain some insight into a potential future in the sport.
“We want to help the younger kids develop, but also to make sure they have a positive experience,” said Frei. “We want to help all of them brush up on their skills for tryouts and be ready and primed to go when September comes.”
On top of it all, Frei is thrilled to be able to offer a high-calibre camp to kids in the B.C. Interior, something that didn’t exist when she was a young player growing up in Kelowna.
“When I was a kid I used to have to go away for camps, it would cost an arm and a leg to go to Oregon or somewhere else,”she said. “We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the weather and we’ve go the facilities here. We just haven’t had the opportunities here, so it’s nice to be able to offer this in the Okanagan now.”
The players will sleep and eat at the Kelowna Curling Club for the duration of the camp.
Frei is grateful to the many individuals and groups in her hometown have opened their arms to the camp and have helped promote girls softball.
“I personally want to thank Chris Babcock and the City of Kelowna, Byron Miki and the Kelowna Minor Baseball Executive, Geoff White and the Kelowna Falcons, Jock Tyre and the Kelowna Curling Club, Gord Hynes and the Kelowna Major Men’s Fastball Executive, Kelowna Minor Fastball and West Kelowna Minor Fastball Association,” Frei said.
For more information on the Beyond the White Lines program visit www.beyondthewhitelines.com, or email Joni at firstname.lastname@example.org.