Sue James – Lorraine Ireland Award of Excellence

Sue James has been involved at Fawkner Park since beginning as a permitted player in 1985, before moving across permanently in 1995. From 1996 Sue was a Melbourne Representative player at the Victorian Open Championships and from 1998 became a coaching player. Sue later transitioned into the head coach role which she undertook for 10 years, whilst also coaching a number of Melbourne junior Representative teams during that same timeframe.

For 13 years from 1999 Sue was the Coaching Co-Ordinator at Melbourne and was responsible for the development of coaches and players within the association (a number of whom are still playing and coaching at Melbourne in 2022). From 1999 Sue was also the Head Coach of the MSquad, a Junior  development program which has been evolved over the years and still sets a benchmark for the development programs MSA runs today.

In 2002 Sue was the inaugural coach of the Titans Softball Club, a Melbourne run club focusing on junior players and their development over the following 9 seasons Sue developed a number of coaches and players alongside her in this program. Titans (whilst on hiatus in 2022) is still a development club within the association.

During her time working in coaching and development at the association, Sue also conducted a number of specialty clinics within the park, particularly focusing on battery development which extended beyond Sue’s teams of direct involvement to the benefit of the larger MSA community.

Sue was also responsible for the development of the Vicsens Masters team, which also spawned the Vicsens Junior team (many members of which Sue had previously led throughout her time as the Melbourne Representative Team coach). Both Vicsens teams have seen a great deal of success at  numerous Masters tournaments throughout the world, and are a much revered presence in Masters Softball.

None of this would have been possible without Sue’s tremendous work over the past 33 years. Sue has shown a tremendous amount of loyalty to the clubs that she has aligned herself with. Not only with the Vicsens, but with both the Panthers and Wingers clubs throughout her 37 years at the park.

Sue was awarded Life Membership at Melbourne Softball Association in 2002, which pre- dates a lot of her contributions mentioned above. Not one to rest on her laurels, Sue has shown an unwavering commitment to the work of softball development at Fawkner Park, and still makes herself available to provide advice to a number of coaches and players within the MSA system and beyond today.

Sue’s legacy to softball at Fawkner Park is evident in the many players and coaches that are still involved in the sport that came through her tutelage. A lot of the principles that Sue exercised as a coach and mentor are still being implemented some 20 years later, and will continue beyond this. Sue has set the benchmark on what exceptional coaching and development looks like, and what she’s given to softball, particularly here at Fawkner Park cannot be measured.