It’s now down to an hourly countdown until the 2016 GSWS kicks off in Austin, Texas and with all of the changes that were made at the NAGAAA Winter Meetings in January sometimes NAGAAA Executive Board elections can get lost in the shuffle.
In Austin this past January, Kevin Riddle of Nashville won the election to become NAGAAA’s next Assistant Commissioner. He takes over for Keith Speers after Speers carried out the remainder of James Willamson’s term as Assistant Commissioner. However, the position that Riddle is taking over isn’t exactly the same position anymore. The NAGAAA voting delegation split off the role of Athletics Director for the GSWS itself from the duties of the Assistant Commissioner. The Assistant Commissioner now appoints an Athletics Director for the GSWS and NAGAAA Cup and will do so for the foreseeable future. This will be the first World Series under this new setup for the Assistant Commissioner position.
While it might not be the same position anymore, Kevin Riddle is excited to serve on the NAGAAA Executive Board and there is no doubt that he is clear on what his mission is in this role. “I ran for this position to continue the movement for positive change within our organization and to help ensure that all of our members have a safe, fun and fair place to play,” said Riddle. A major part of the Assistant Commissioner’s role is to ensure “fair play” and that can entail looking at player ratings, ratings questions and equipment issues as well.
It’s clear that Riddle has a passion for NAGAAA and it shows through his years of dedication at the local level in Nashville. “I’ve been involved with my local league in Nashville since 2005. I was one of the founders of the new league in Nashville that was started in 2007,” said the former MNSA Commissioner. Riddle’s passion for softball extends beyond Nashville and with that comes a deep sense of gratitude for what NAGAAA means to him and to thousands of other players across North America. “Without NAGAAA softball, I don’t know where I’d be today. I’ve met folks from all over the US and Canada and I’ve heard their stories. I love NAGAAA softball,” stated Riddle.
Riddle is confident that the GSWS is in good hands with this year’s Athletics Director not only for the GSWS, but for the NAGAAA Cup as well in Shane Yocom. Riddle praised Yocom for his softball credentials and tournament planning acumen. “Shane is the current commissioner of the Metro Nashville Softball Association. He’s served previously as Assistant Commissioner in the league. He has served as a player and coach for over 15 years. Shane is very knowledgeable about the game. He is very strong analytically and is a logistics manager professionally. He’s a great asset to NAGAAA,” lauded Riddle.
Each World Series there are always those little tweaks and changes that might not seem like much, but can make a big difference. Riddle was quick to point those out when we spoke with him. “Hopefully managers are aware of the two big changes. Beginning this year at the GSWS, batters will come to the plate with a 1-1 count. It has been 0-0 historically. Also new this year, courtesy runners are allowed and that runner can be anyone in the line up, including subs,” Riddle said.
NAGAAA has someone in the Assistant Commissioner role that understands the value this organization has to its membership and the positive role it can play in promoting self-confidence, self-awareness and self-respect while at the same time teaching the same important lessons that team sports have taught for centuries. These lessons of compromise, teamwork and networking bleed over to help people in their personal and professional lives. “NAGAAA is important because it’s an athletic outlet for our community and it’s our safe haven. NAGAAA is important because it reminds us that we’re not alone. We are FAMILY and unfortunately for so many, we’re the only family we have,” said Riddle.
Riddle enters into his first GSWS as Assistant Commissioner in the GSWS’ 40th year and the future looks bright for NAGAAA with him in this position.
*The Diamond Dish would like to thank Kevin Riddle, NAGAAA Assistant Commissioner for his assistance with this blog post.*