While USSSA continues to provide thousands of athletes an opportunity to participate and compete in the United States, there has been a large expansion of USSSA international programming the past several years. USSSA International began with developmental clinics for baseball coaches and athletes in Europe in 2012; expanded to include fastpitch coaches and athlete clinics in Europe in 2015; and most recently expanded to coaches and athlete clinics in Africa in 2016. Two key individuals behind those efforts have been DJ Wabick and Andrea D’Auria.
D’Auria and Wabick met in 2010 through the USSSA Gold Medal Games and connected through their passion of growing the game worldwide. Wabick had recently retired from a professional baseball career and was motivated to use the USSSA platform to grow opportunities in baseball internationally. D’Auria, whom resides in Piacenza, Italy, played and coached professionally in Italy and was aware of the specific needs for baseball in Italy. Together, Wabick and D’Auria used Europe as a starting point for their quest to grow the game and expand USSSA internationally. In 2012, they put together their first developmental clinics in Barcelona, Spain and Parma, Italy with former MLB players Michael Tucker, Charles Johnson, Luis Alicea, and Jeffrey Hammonds.
In 2016, through Wabick and D’Auria’s efforts, USSSA became an official partner with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the world’s governing body for baseball and fastpitch. All developmental clinics run by USSSA are in partnership with the WBSC and their member federations. USSSA and the WBSC aim to grow the sports of baseball and softball world wide through educating both players and coaches on the key fundamentals of the sports and on how to communicate effectively to players.
USSSA hosted nine international coach and players educational clinics in 2017, attracting nearly 500 attendees for both baseball and softball in locations throughout Europe and Africa. D’Auria, now the Vice President of International Programs for USSSA, oversees all of the instructional curriculum and teaching for the developmental clinics. Each clinic included hands-on, in-depth work with experienced instructors who guide the players and coaches through drills and exercises of the basic fundamentals. Below, is a list of each location:
Berlin 40 athletes Baseball
Belgium 35 coaches/10 athletes Baseball/Softball
Bulgaria 20 coaches/10 athletes Baseball/Softball
Parma 25 athletes Baseball
Milan 50 athletes Baseball
Pamplona 70 athletes/10 coaches Baseball
Mongolia 40 athletes/30 coaches Baseball/Softball
Nigeria 50 coaches/15 athletes Baseball/Softball
Tanzania 75 coaches Baseball/Softball
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In 2018, Wabick and D’Auria will continue to host international developmental clinics through the WBSC. Wabick, the Senior Vice President of International Programs for USSSA, reflected on 2017 stating, “Looking back at 2017 and everything USSSA International was able to be a part of within the international landscape, it’s extremely humbling to have been able to work alongside the WBSC and help impact lives in multiple continents around the globe.
Wabick continued, “With the momentum created in 2017 through the European and African development clinics as well as USSSA officially becoming a WBSC Associate member….USSSA International is extremely excited for 2018 and look forward to continuing to help be a voice of development and growth within baseball and softball worldwide.”
Read original story at USSSA.com