Players driving into the Roanoke Valley are greeted by a huge star sitting high above Mill Mountain. The eighty foot high lighted star serves to welcome visitors and has given rise to the City of Roanoke to be known as the Star City of the South. And the Valley has now become known as the “Place Where Champions Are Made.” The local governments of Botetourt County, Roanoke County, Roanoke City and the City of Salem have formed a consortium headed up by John Shaner, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Salem to plan for and host many amateur and collegiate championships in a number sports throughout the year.
The International Softball Federation (ISF) is one of them, they have now held seven Senior World Cup Championships at the City of Champions utilizing 15 fields. RB Thomas, Jr., Director of Senior Softball for the ISF (and ISSA Executive Director) and a native of Roanoke was well aware of the outstanding commitment that the Roanoke Valley places on the events they are hosting and was delighted when Shaner approached him about bringing a senior softball tournament to their community, “We were excited to be able to take the Senior World Cup to the Roanoke Valley and give the senior players an opportunity to experience the area.
Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains which provides an awesome environment, the folks down there know how to provide exceptional tournament support and really strive to give the players and guests a wonderful visit to their community. The experienced local tournament staff support begins with a catered Managers Meeting then managing the player check-in and supporting all the tasks throughout the event. And also important to us, they handle all the lodging arrangements.” The senior teams are signing up now for the XIV ISF Senior World Cup scheduled for June 26-28.
The reputation of the area and host services for a senior softball event has spread across the Country. The ISF Senior World Cup has experienced a steady increase in participation since moving to the Roanoke Valley and now maximizes the available field space.
”Teams that play here,” offered Thomas, “go to their next tournament and tell other teams how it is done at Salem.....watering, dragging and relining after every game, trained scorekeepers with electronic scoreboards, ice water in the dugouts, restrooms in some dugouts and excellent well maintained facilities. Build the program and they will come.” One jurisdiction, Botetourt County now has two additional championship quality softball fields under construction at their award winning Botetourt Softball Complex. Roanoke County is completing a total renovation of their facility in time for the 2015 event.
The ISF has accepted the Roanoke Valley’s bid for 2016 and will return the tournament next year in June. John Shaner, speaking for all the host jurisdictions said, “ We are very proud to hold the ISF Senior World Cup here in the Roanoke Valley. Our staff really enjoys working with RB Thomas, Jr. and his crew and it is our goal to provide the best possible tournament and experience for all the players and their guests.”