Administrator's dedication recognised nationally

Stacey Wardell works at the Otago Softball Association yesterday, after being named Softball New...
Stacey Wardell works at the Otago Softball Association yesterday, after being named Softball New Zealand’s administrator of the year. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Stacey Wardell is one of those people who just does everything.

She began softball as a player.

That has since extended to coaching, managing and administration.

The last of those has proved a successful venture.

She did such a good job as a volunteer that when the Otago Softball Association was in a position to employ someone, they gave her a paid job in May.

Last week, that recognition went national when she was named Softball New Zealand's administrator of the year.

It was something that had left the 36-year-old speechless, when SNZ CEO Tony Giles called to inform her.

"When he said it, there was nothing there, I was just blown away," she said.

"It's super humbling and a massive honour to be awarded that."

She was quick to deflect the praise, pointing out the "massive volunteer base" the association has.

However, by all accounts she has been key in that - so much so she was nominated for the national award by several people.

Otago softball's financial crisis in 2017 proved a key moment.

After learning of the issues and what needed to be done, she was one to put her hand up to help.

That began with running tournaments and events, before she joined the executive in the administration role the following year.

It had been something she did as a volunteer, alongside coaching her son's teams and helping manage teams as well.

On top of that, she would still play when she was able to.

While it was a lot to take on, her motivation was simple - she loves softball.

She loves the way the sport is so family oriented and the way it is inclusive.

So when the chance to take on the role full-time arose, she took very little time to submit her application.

"It's so nice.

"I'm 36 and this is the first time I've ever been able to say I'm doing something I actually love.

"Last year was really frustrating, because there was so much more I wanted to do and I just didn't have the time.

"I was up at midnight putting draws up on Facebook and putting out flyers and rosters and things like that.

"Having the time to do that now, during the day, all the stuff I didn't have time to do.

"I can't see myself ever getting to the point of getting up and going `Oh I've got to work'."

If she has to give it up because it becomes unsustainable, she accepts that.

She will go back to volunteering if she has to.

For now, her goal is to help grow the sport, showing people its inclusiveness and giving more people opportunities.

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