When Hawke's Bay's multiple national title-winning age group softball coach Kevin Gettins embarks on his second Junior World Series campaign tomorrow it will be the first time he has a daughter in the New Zealand team.
Before anyone starts labelling the father-daughter link (his daughter Courtney is one of four pitchers in the team he is assistant coach of) a recipe for disaster they should consider the success of previous teams they have been involved with. Gettins has coached and Courtney has pitched for Hawke's Bay U13, U15 and U17 teams, the latter twice, to regional, North Island and national titles.
When quizzed on his and head coach Venita Hokai's chances of emulating Hawke's Bay's successes with the Junior White Sox at the July 1-7 16-team Junior World Series in Brampton, Ontario, Canada Gettins replied, "We've got a tough draw. But a top four berth in our pool is the initial goal as that will put us into the top eight playoffs. If we can achieve that then we can aim for a top four finish overall."
The Junior White Sox are seeded third in their pool in the wake of their sixth placing at the 2011 tournament in South Africa - Gettins' first stint as assistant coach of the national side his eldest daughter and long-serving White Sox catcher Mel Gettins played for in 2007. They are in the same pool as defending champions, the US and Canada, their opponents on Independence Day.
"Both the United States and Canada select their teams from pools of 50,000 players, ours is picked from a pool of 50 players. But we've learnt a lot from last time," Gettins said.
Unlike in 2011 the 2013 tournament will be played out of the Kiwis season. However the Junior White Sox, who assemble in Auckland tomorrow and fly to Hawaii on Thursday, will negate this disadvantage by playing six build-up games in Hawaii, six in Los Angeles and two, against Brazil and Japan, in Canada.
"Unlike at previous Junior World Series we play two games on at least two of the days which is a good thing as there isn't as much down time," Gettins added.
Sixteen-year-old Iona College year 12 student Courtney will be the baby of the team. She will also be eligible for the 2015 Junior World Series in the US.
"I'm leaving New Zealand as the third ranked pitcher in the side ... the goal is to return as the No.1," Courtney who has already played for the White Sox, said.
She knows a lot of United States college and university teams' scouts will be in Brampton and some top performances on the mound could see her secure a scholarship in the States.
"I've been pitching four days a week and doing lots of gym sessions. Jess [Jess Hanara of Peak Fitness] has really pushed me and I couldn't be happier with my fitness levels." Courtney, whose pitches are regularly closed around the 98km/h mark, said.
"I must thank everyone who has supported me with my fundraising too," Courtney added referring to the fact she, like every other player, had to raise $7500 towards the campaign.
Her father pointed out it was fortunate he didn't have to raise the same amount.
"If I did one of us wouldn't be going and that probably would have been me," he added.
Had Gettins had to withdraw that would have been a recipe for disaster.Junior White Sox pool draw: July 1, v Puerto Rico; July 2, v Great Britain, v Venezuela; July 3, v Czech Republic, v Korea; July 4, v USA, v Canada.
Junior White Sox:
Pitchers: Jasmin Kaiaruna (Wellington), Courtney Gettins (Hawke's Bay), Taylor Paige Stewart (University of Wisconsin), Elizabeth Stavert (Auckland).
Catchers: Emma Francis (Wellington), Keri Simeon (Wellington). Infield: Kuraroa Ratu-James (Hutt Valley), Cassie Siataga (Canterbury), Danica Ferriso (Hutt Valley), Mikayla Werahiko (Canterbury), Shannon Hearne (West Australia), Ellie Cooper (University of Florida).
Outfield: Lauren Tapp (New South Wales), Tyneesha Houkamau (Auckland), Kingsley Avery (Ava Maria University), Kayla Rangiawha (Wellington), Freya Bullock (Auckland).