Affiliated with Cumberland Nepean Softball Association (CNSA) in NSW, Castle Hill Softball Club achieved Homeplate status for the second year in a row in 2018/19, finishing 7th overall in Softball Australia’s Homeplate Ladder program on 99 points.
Following a successful 2017/18 season, the Club continued to focus on growing its junior membership in 2018/19 with great success, achieving growth in membership of 27%.
Due to the Club’s successful growth in junior membership, it has enabled them to field combined teams in the Junior Boys and Under 13 / Under 15 divisions during the CNSA Summer Competition. These players, as well as a few older junior female players also play in the Clubs’ Senior Ladies and Mixed Division teams.
To achieve its membership growth success, the Club used a range of successful strategies.
“Over the last two seasons, we have heavily advertised in the local area and in local schools in the lead-up to our Registration Day and pre-season training. Similarly to last season, perhaps our biggest strategy was local and web-based advertising,” said Club Registrar, Aimee Sutton.
“We spoke to several of the local schools and shopping centres, and utilised noticeboards, newsletters, and websites to get our name out there. Just as important this season was using our current long-serving members to our advantage.
“We are a family club with great family values, and a number of our players have been with the club for a significant number of years. And word of mouth has become quite an effective tool, with players bringing friends and family over to join in on the action. Perhaps the best success we had this season was a single player bringing an entire team worth of friends to join in on the fun in Ladies C Grade! And we are hoping that all of the kids that came to watch their mums play on Saturday throughout last season may want to give the sport a go themselves this year!”
The club also invested a lot of time in building a significant social media presence this year which Aimee also believes has led to the recruitment of new players.
“With more Facebook posts and keeping the website updated, we know these improvements have helped in our recruitment, as many of our new members commented that this is how they found out about us,” added Sutton.
“We believe that providing our club information to a wider audience can only help our chances with recruitment. We are also currently looking at utilising Instagram moving forward, as it reaches another target audience.”
One of the other big goals for the Club was to improve its financial position. Aimee explains, “it was vitally important that our club was financially stable by the end of the 2018/19 season. So in line with our efforts to be more involved with the local community, we organised a number of fundraising initiatives during the season and in the winter break.
“Our largest increase was achieved by selling Cadbury Fundraiser chocolates (we have a number of Club members that work in schools or large offices, so it was a great fundraising tool with minimal effort), plus we also participated in a Bunnings BBQ at the Castle Hill store, held various fundraising raffles, and hosted our third (highly-anticipated) community Trivia Night at the Castle Hill Bowling Club. It was quite a lot of work for our Executive Committee over the last 12 months, but it was one hundred percent worth it – we are now financially stable, with money reserves to update our equipment and order more uniforms before the start of the new season.”
Castle Hill Softball Club is also known for valuing their volunteers and the contribution they make and investing in their development.
“You can never be disadvantaged as a club for sending your players and officials to be better trained and qualified in their fields. No Club or team can run without their volunteers and officials, and we as a Club have always recognised that having highly skilled members benefits both the Club and the individuals,” added Sutton.
“Along with Cumberland Nepean Softball Association, we are always looking out for new accreditation courses in the area that our members could attend and will always financially support any club member wishing to further their skills.
“As a not-for-profit Club, we are run solely by volunteers, and we aim to continuously recognise outstanding people in our Club as often as possible, either through our Facebook page, website, nominating for local sporting awards, or at events such as our AGM and Presentation Day.”
Homeplate Ladder Program and Homeplate website
The Club is a regular user of the Homeplate website and appreciates the information and resources available.
“The Homeplate website is absolutely fantastic. There is no other word for it. Whether you are looking to re-write a policy or constitution, run your club, plan an event, or increase your membership, there is something on the website that can help. We are also starting to utilise the sponsorship resources and proposal guides, to gain sponsors moving forward, which as many Clubs would know, is a difficult task at times. But being able to use the resources, tools, and example packages from other Clubs has been invaluable.”
Regarding the Homeplate Ladder Program, Aimee has this advice for other clubs,
“Read through the criteria! There are so many different ways that Softball Australia wants to recognise clubs that are doing amazing things for our sport, and there are a number of things that our awesome members have done that we didn’t realise we could receive points for until we asked. The Homeplate Program encourages Softball clubs to strive to be better and gives you great hints and tips on how to go about it! It has helped us immensely over the past three years”.
With a proven formula of planning and hard work, the future continues to look bright for Castle Hill.
“We are hoping to continue the successful membership growth we have seen since 2017, with more advertising and a greater community presence,” added Sutton.
“We are also looking to have more players and officials attending scoring, umpiring and/or coaching accreditation courses, as well as CNSA Representative Team trials. This has been a small focus for us this season, as we work to make these opportunities more known to our members and will be a bigger focus for the Club moving into the 2019/2020 season.
“Growing our Junior numbers again is going to be a steady process, as we continue to build on the progress we have made over the past three years, which we are extremely proud of.”