A premiere project of the European Softball Coaches Association – the ESCA Camp – training and workshop camp for both players and coaches from all over Europe turned out to be a great success. Nearly 100 softball enthusiasts made their way to the Netherlands to experience what is it like to spend five days with people who love softball as much as themselves do.

„My daughter has arrived full of things to tell and happy to have learned so much. It has been a great experience for her. You have done an extraordinary job. Thank you!“ Sonia Reyes Aguero (mom of a player) 

“I just wanted to say thank you very much for the camp.  I had a wonderful time and very much enjoyed meeting everybody and learning so much.” David Morris (shadow coach) 

“Miss everybody so much! It was a great experience and I will be there next year! Love you, guys!” Asmara de Greef (player) 

These are a few examples of the feedback we’ve received since the second ESCA Camp was over. Having gone through the two weeks of softball-knowledge sharing, training sessions, discussions, workshops, and social time with all the campers, we can officially state that both ESCA Camps in 2017 were probably even more than what we had hoped for. 

The second international softball camp for players and coaches took place in Diessen, the Netherlands, October 25 – 29. A total of 24 "shadow coaches" and 38 players from 12 countries met to learn more about softball and to share their knowledge and experience. Eight instructors led the campers through five days of softball training and educational blocks. 

The instructors were: 

Craig Montvidas (USA) – former Dutch National Team head coach
Enrico Obletter (ITA/AUS) – Italian National Team head coach
Karen Marr (AUS) – Dutch National Team pitching coach
Rachael Watkeys (GBR) – British National Team head coach
Celine Lassaigne (FRA) – French National Team head coach
Berend Mannessen (NED) – former Dutch National Team assistant coach
Marjolein Merkx (NED) – Dutch National Team pitcher
Anouk van den Heuvel (NED) – softball instructor 

To assure enough opportunities for each player to improve during the camp, the players were divided into four training groups dependant on their primary positions. Pitchers were given a special attention by Karen Marr and Marjolein Merkx. Enrico Obletter devoted most of his time to hitting instruction, which turned out to be one of the most requested sessions. 

On the last day of the camp, Britt Vonk, a Dutch NPF player, came to visit the campers and she told them about her softball career. She also helped with slap-hitting instruction and was very friendly to all the players and coaches, who enjoyed taking selfies and talking to their softball role model. 

Prior to the camp, Craig Montvidas, the ESCA Camp Director, said: “I don’t believe that we can make them better, but I believe that we can make them smarter.” The campers left the camp not only smarter but also full of memories. We witnessed hugs and tears when the players had to say goodbye to their new international friends. “Those were the moments that made us realize that we did a good job,” said Helena Novotna, the ESCA Camp organizer. 

The 2017 ESCA Camp was just a test drive, and it worked perfectly. This project is something that the ESCA will want to continue with. Players and coaches already talked about coming back next year, bringing their teammates, or other coaches. A new era of softball coaches’ education in Europe has begun.