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SMC to host baseball conference

Katie Kohler | Friday, April 13, 2007

Starting today and running through Saturday, Saint Mary’s will host the fifth- annual International Women’s Baseball Leadership Conference.

The conference, coordinated by the Saint Mary’s College Club Baseball Program and titled “Getting Girls in the Game of Baseball,” will attempt to increase female interest in the sport at the College.

John Kovach, an archivist and faculty advisor to the Club Baseball Program, said he hopes the conference will stress the importance of women’s baseball – which they may not know as women oftentimes replace the sport with softball.

“It is assumed that because you’re a female you only play softball. … It’s something [female baseball players] just have to deal with,” he said. “Sports shouldn’t be regulated by gender because there are so many similarities between baseball and softball.”

Kovach, a former Saint Mary’s softball coach, sees baseball as a way to improve softball skills.

“After playing baseball, women come back as better softball players,” he said. “The softball field just doesn’t challenge them like it used to.”

A former major league baseball pitching coach, Bob Cluck, will deliver the keynote address. Cluck, a consultant for the San Diego Padres, will also offer baseball lessons from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday morning in the Angela Athletic Facility.

Kovach wanted to hold the conference earlier in the semester, to avoid sharing the weekend with Junior Moms Weekend. Cluck, however, was unable to attend the earlier date, as he was at Spring Training with the Padres.

Cluck is also an author of many self-improvement baseball books, as well as “Baseball for Girls,” a book focusing on breaking the stereotypes of women in baseball.

Other speakers include the president of the Women’s Baseball League (WBL) and conference founder, Justine Siegal and Terri Lakowski, the public policy coordinator for the Women’s Sports Foundation. Siegal will focus on youth girl’s baseball, and Lakowski will discuss the ways to cope with discrimination against girls in baseball.

Participants are coming from Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, California and other regions of the country, Kovach said. This is only the second time the conference has taken place in the Midwest.

Kovach, who has worked with Siegal in the past, said getting the conference to Saint Mary’s was fairly easy.

“Justine [Siegal] liked the idea of coming to a women’s college and thought we could make it a diverse program,” he said.

Typically, the conferences are hosted in club league locations.

The registration cost for the conference is $65 for adults and $30 for students. The ticket includes access to all sessions, lunch and the Cluck lessons Saturday. The Friday sessions and keynote lunch cost $50. Pre-registration is required.

Previous conferences have been held in Cleveland, Baltimore, Orlando and Toronto. The conference is financially sponsored by the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL). Additional sponsors include the First Source Bank, South Bend Blue Sox Women’s Baseball and the United States Girl’s Baseball Association.