The Whiteside Family Backstory
While raising our daughters in central Ohio in the 80’s and early 90’s, one thing was very clear – they loved softball almost as much as I enjoyed coaching. We quickly created return nets in our barns to practice even when it was too cold or snowy to play. Many families wanted their daughters to practice all year with us too and we opened up our meager indoor areas to anyone who loved to play.
Through the years, we led clinics and tournaments and made so many friends that our softball circle was a large family. After my daughters grew up, married and started their own families, we all continued to support young athletes and continue on our Queen of Diamonds tournaments in the US.
But then, in 1996, we had an idea. As a blended family of Europe and America (Mom Whiteside is from the Netherlands) we experimented with a tournament we called ‘the Cup’. With our family and friends scattered throughout Europe, we chose to hold the first one Lyon, France. We created a French team of high school aged women playing softball.
After twenty years of hosting and organizing The Cup for softball, our European partners requested support for the growing interest of Lacrosse athletes. They looked to our family to build this sport into our annual tournament. In the US, there is a growing interest for female athletes as well. We knew we could assist in making this happen but wanted to ensure we have the utmost talented coaches on board to allow our US team reach is highest potential with the experience. In 2016, the first Cup for Lacrosse began. What an amazing sport!
Our European teams continue to introduce more and more young athletes to the sport so we are excited to offer the Cup to US players. Every year the competition gets more intense! Meet our coach who leads the team!
By the next year, the Swiss learned about this. Then the British. Within 3 years this little tournament we coined ‘the Cup’ became THE TOURNAMENT of Europe! The Europeans LOVE it as this events marks the beginning of Softball for their continent.
This began a family tradition of US and Europe based tournaments that continually keeps our love of softball as active as the new athletes we empower to play.
Through the Years – We Became Official
In 2002 after many years, we outgrew the facility in Lyon due to all the participation and moved The Cup to where European softball is ‘QUEEN’ — the Netherlands. The tournament is now governed and recognized by the Dutch Fastpitch Softball Federation, which is a member of the ESF (European Softball Federation) and subsequent member of the ISF (International Softball Federation).
It all Began with a Challenge
This 1996 Cup tournament was originally comprised of a team from the United States and several teams from France. I was working with the French team at that time and continued to brag about how ‘American female athletes were SO much better at this age”.
Well, you don’t say that too many times in someone else’s home before someone will stand up and say, ‘BRING ‘EM ON!”
Well, THAT was the start. I sure did bring a team over and they kind of got a good lesson in AWESOME AMERICAN ATHLETES!
Now, it’s become an ongoing challenge to continue to bring the best athletes to the tournament and make sure we continue to grow this game.
The Goal for Athletes who Join Us
The goal of a tournament of this caliber was and continues to be to show the teams what it was like to play ball at a high level and to teach these teams the essence of ball and how it is played so well at such a young age. The exposure to so many cultures, countries and talent is a once in a lifetime experience.
In 1998, big changes began in the development of the tournament. More teams had ‘enlisted’ to attend this tournament. The U.S. team had changed to an International selection of athletes from both Canada and the U.S. in a mixed program now known as the North American Select team. During the 1998 campaign, not only was the North American Select Team present but there were several European teams also invited to this, now, more prestigious tournament.
1999 was a continuation of the growth and prestige of this tournament! Germany, Switzerland, Holland as well as the French all had their National teams represented. In 2000 the North American Select Team fielded 4 teams to compete in this tournament.
The Cup – which this tournament is now known as – in 2000 continued to prosper with National teams again from Germany, Switzerland, Holland and the French Hosts National team but also from Great Britain. Several new teams from across Europe in addition to the 4 North American Select Teams (NAST) and a group of 2 Ohio based teams and supporters filled out the tournament slots.
Cup 2002 was a huge success not only in changing the location from Lyon, France to Schiedam, the Netherlands but the talent level provided by this new venue increased 10 fold.
This game is dramatically different in many ways as it is played indoors, in several ‘soccer’ halls. We play with 8 defensively, an ‘indoor’ ball with rules changed for ‘indoor’ play! This game is a game of speed! Even MORE strategy and speed are needed in performing well at this tournament.
Each team has a guaranteed amount of games for ‘pool’ play with all advancing to tournament play. With the 3 halls, games run quickly and smoothly with the beginning of the tournament played on Saturday morning and ending an up to 7 game stretch on Sunday evening.
With the common thread of fastpitch softball enveloping the community of players, language barriers are virtually non-existent. With this tournament being held in one of the more beautiful cities in Europe, the area, cuisine, night-life and atmosphere is second to none!