History of PWSA
According to Sandy Walters of Toronto, it all began in an automobile!
A small contingent of enthusiastic but discontented ball players were discussing the “sad” state of women’s softball…there was no controlling body for women; they were just an afterthought of the men’s organization. “Let’s form a softball union for all of Ontario”, suggested Bobbie Rosenfeld.
The very first notation in the PWSA minute book reads, “minutes of the meeting of those interested in women’s softball was held in Room 15, Central Y.M.C.A. on the evening of May 9th, 1931, at 8:00 p.m. There were 38 persons present.” The late John DeGruchy acted as the Chairman of this important meeting, which gave birth to the PROVINCIAL WOMEN’S SOFTBALL UNION OF ONTARIO. They elected Anne Spalding as the first President, with H. Thomas as Secretary and J. Moffatt as Treasurer.
From 1931 to 1942 the Association consisted of but one Division, Intermediate “A”. It wasn’t until 1942 that a Senior Division was created. Then in 1945, a Junior series was formed; in 1947 Intermediate “B”; in 1951 Intermediate “AA” and “C”, 1952 saw the addition of Juvenile; 1957 Senior “AA” and Juvenile “B”; 1961 Intermediate “D” and Minor Zone Series; 1964 Junior “C” and “D”; 1966 Minor “A” and “B”; 1971 Midget “A” and “B” and Novice “A” and “B”.
In 1953, the PWSU stopped using the OASA Rule Book and printed their own. In 1954, the PWSU conducted their first Coaching and Umpiring Clinics. It wasn’t until 1958 that men were permitted to run for that office; until that time, only women were allowed to stand for the Executive. Mr. Gar Landers, of Stratford, was to be the first male President.
In 1961, the PWSU consisted of six Executive members and 51 affiliated teams. In 1966, Art Van Nest, of St. Catharines, was appointed Chairman of the very first Minor Softball Tournament to be held by the PWSU. In that same year, the first PWSU Bulletin was circulated. Then yet another change was made in 1970 when Playoffs changed from two-out-of-three series to the Tournament-style playoffs, on a trial basis.
In 1976, the PWSU became incorporated and requested to change the word “Union” to “Association”. Sade Widmeyer, PWSA Umpire-In-Chief, developed the first Umpire’s exam in this Province. In 1976, there were 260 teams affiliated and 656 Umpires. This same year saw the inaugural “Awards Dinner” at the Annual Meeting.
Gone by the wayside are two-out-of-three series, telegrams ordering teams to play and all our Umpires and our clinics, which were transferred to Softball Ontario. The PWSA never ceases to change, grow and expand. In 1990, the Tier II structure was introduced in the minor Divisions, on a trial basis, for the smaller communities and first year clubs. It was highly successful and was made a permanent part of the PWSA in 1993, expanding to include all Divisions of the PWSA. Zone Tournaments disappeared to be replaced by Qualifying Tournaments leading to Grand Championships.
The PWSA annually sends teams to all classifications offered by Softball Canada, and maintains a leadership role in the technical arm of our sport, as offered by Softball Ontario.
In our 85 years of history, many volunteers have contributed to the success of PWSA, without whom our girls could not play this game and advance to National and International events. It is time to pause and say a quiet “thank you” to all who made this possible.