Cambridge Valkyries mark new era for women’s baseball in UK
Tucked away in the far corner of Coldham’s Common last Saturday, there was a historic moment for women’s sport in the UK.
The two pitches would give a little clue and on closer inspection you could see the two diamonds used in baseball.
It was in fact the start of the first women’s baseball league in the UK for 80 years. Teams had travelled from Sheffield, Telford, London and Bristol for the opening round, with Cambridge the host club have started their women’s team, the Valkyries, this year.
Nicole Ranier is the Cambridge women’s team manager and has been delighted with the progress that they have made in what has been a relatively short space of time.
“We had a taster session and probably had between 15 and 18 women to just trial it, some of them had played cricket before and I think there was a general interest in sport that they wanted to try something new,” says Ranier.
“We currently have about 12 still involved, so it has been better than we initially expected which is very good just to be able to grow the sport and give women another sport to play.
“It’s just something new, and not very big in the UK.”
Ranier is from Ohio and initially took up baseball at school, and was able to return to the sport on relocating to Cambridge.
“I didn’t actually know there was a team in Cambridge when I first moved this way, but luckily I found it and now for there to be a women’s league as well is fantastic to be able to play it with more people and get more women interested in the sport,” said Ranier.
“A colleague I work with told me about it, so I went to training with it and just loved it – it had been quite a while since I had been involved in the sport but to get back into it was great.”
Having played for the Monarchs, which is a mixed team, Rainier spearheaded the creation of a Cambridge women’s team, with the opportunity to join WB-UK, which was driven by Amanda Hocking.
“We were initially supposed to start our season last year but with lockdown and everything happening we had no choice [to postpone it],” said Ranier.
“It just goes to show we still had interest having postponed it for a year.
“Hopefully next year we can have more, then as the sport grows, we can have regional games where there is not as much travel all over the country – until then, I think we’re all just very happy to be able to play.
“With this creation and the GB women’s team, having that set will just bring more interest from other women that might want to try out the sport.”
She added: “For the first time in 80 years there will be a women’s league that anyone 14 and above can try and play, hopefully we can grow the sport so that the league has more teams in next year and continues to grow.”
Cambridge started the season with a 7-7 tie with Telford and 10-2 defeat to Sheffield.