The West Coast Wire
Honoured for growing the game
Kathy Lukeman proudly inducted into Softball NL Hall of Fame
Kathy Lukeman can’t remember a time when softball wasn’t a central part of her life.
She grew up, every day, watching and playing on the ballfield down on the westside.
“The ballfield was right in our neighbourhood,” she tells West Coast Wire. “Every evening, we’d go and watch ball and as soon as they were finished, we would play ball.”
At the age of 15, she joined the senior’s league, recalling with a laugh that she had to get her parents’ permission to play. Lukeman has never looked back.
Her passion for softball and her drive to grow the game has never waned. For more than 50 years now, she has been involved with Corner Brook softball as an athlete, coach, executive and mentor.
Now, she has been recognized for her lifetime of dedication to the sport. During a ceremony in St. John’s on May 6, Lukeman and five others were inducted into the Softball NL Hall of Fame. It was a great honour for the new inductee.
“It was just a good feeling to be recognized by your peers and being from the west coast too, it’s not always somebody from this part of the island that would be nominated,” she says. “And for a sport that I’ve played forever.”
Lukeman was inducted in the builder category.
In her roles as an athlete, coach and executive member, she has been vital in keeping the Corner Brook Molson Ladies Softball League going and growing the sport with the youth.
“We’ve been trying to keep that going and keep it alive, for other people to get involved and work towards getting better skills or just giving people another choice of a sport they could play and become part of a team,” she says.
As a coach, she has worked hard to build the sport on the minor level. Softball NL’s biography of Lukeman notes she has completed multiple coaching certification courses, has hosted pitching clinics and takes all opportunities to learn how to better grow the game.
Since 2008, she has coached the Corner Brook Regional High School Girls softball team and has coached countless young women at the local, regional and provincial levels.
In 2008 and 2016, she coached the Western Region Girls Softball Teams at the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games, an event she also acted as convenor for when it was held in Corner Brook in 2008.
Since 2016, Softball NL notes “she has been active in trying to rebuild the minor program in the western region.”
“Working with the younger athletes, keeping them interested, being involved with the Summer Games, being involved with the school softball team, trying to get some of the younger athletes to play in our league, I find it rewarding to see how they grow and come to be more confident in the game and more confident with their abilities,” says Lukeman.
Currently, as league president, a role she has assumed for most of the last 20 years, Lukeman is working with the executive to have U15 boys and girls teams ready for the NL Summer Games next year.
Per Softball NL, Lukeman’s “steadfast calm” and “fair leadership” as a softball executive has “sustained the high quality and highly respected Women’s Softball Association in Corner Brook.”
It also notes that in 2012, she “was instrumental in bringing the Women’s Fastpitch Provincial Tournament to Corner Brook and was named Softball NL Adult Executive of the Year for her efforts.”
She has served on the executive for more than 30 years in total.
As an athlete, Lukeman has received several individual awards, including league MVP, Top Batter, and Golden Glove, and team awards as a member of senior teams in the Corner Brook Women’s Fastpitch League.
She has competed in several provincial championships, attended the Atlantic Canadians in 2010 and the National Championships in 1988 and 2019. And she continues to play the sport she loves. Mostly, Lukeman loves being in that team environment. A team, to her, is almost like a family.
“You’re all together and everybody is always working together for a common goal,” she elaborates. “It’s good for your confidence and makes you work as a team player.”
Lukeman was grateful to all the support she has received from teammates, coaches and fellow executive members through the years.
“It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a team to create a Hall of Famer,” she states.
She also thanked those who nominated her for the Hall of Fame.