After a half-century of dedication and volunteering to help local kids realize their dreams, two well-known faces in local softball will be honoured this weekend in Vancouver.
Montrose’s Richard Rhodes and Brian Pipes will receive a special recognition award from Softball BC Hall of Fame in Richmond tomorrow.
“We established the category last year to recognize individuals for their contributions throughout the years to the sport and development of softball in B.C.,” said Dave Brewer of Fruitvale and board member for Softball BC.
Rhodes and Pipes were involved in baseball for many years before they organized the Lower Columbia Girls Softball League in 1985, and later the “Thunder Fast Pitch” for any girl under 14 years old who was passionate about playing.
“They’ve helped a number of young ladies get athletic scholarships, and advance their careers. They’ve given selflessly of their time, they put on clinics for coaches, run a weekly training session at the Field House and are mentors for coaches for Summer Games teams,” said Brewer.
Both Pipes and Rhodes, who turns 74 next week, are currently running their annual fall girls softball camp at the Willi Krause Field House so Pipes will not make the trip. Rhodes however will be joined by his daughter, Shannon, who will accept the award on Pipes behalf. Like Pipes’ two daughters, Shannon has followed in her father’s footsteps as a former player in nine national championships and is now a coach.
“It’s a great sport and I just love working with the kids and seeing them achieve,” said Rhodes.
While Pipes and Rhodes have had their share of honours they are particulary proud of their success on the field.
Events such as the “Thunderfest Tournament” where teams played 10 games in 48 hours and their trip to the 2004 World Series.
“We went to the regionals in Port Angeles and won it, and went on to the Babe Ruth World Series in Mattoon, Illinois, the first Canadian girls team ever to go there,” said Rhodes.
The two men coached for many years and still run the softball camp twice a year as they continue to help young ball players improve and reach their goals.
“It would never have happened if Richard and I didn’t have all the support of parents and the kids over the years – the parents have to have trust in what we do and the kids have to trust and respect us as we respect them,” said Pipes.