As a board member for USA Softball (U.S. national governing body of softball), I had the honor to accept the James Farrell Award for Excellence on behalf of the West Michigan Sports Commission for excellence in conducting two national USA Softball championships at the Art Van Sports Complex in Plainfield Township.  This award is given to communities rated high enough by players and national representatives throughout the duration of the tournaments.  More importantly, this award is the culmination of efforts by tournament staff in making these national tournaments the best possible. 

As someone who has participated in both the Men’s Fast Pitch Open East National Championship Aug. 23-25 and Men’s Class D Northern Slow Pitch National Championship Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the Art Van Sports Complex, I can tell you that this award was well deserved and earned (see my blog about how the AVSC impressed USA Softball at the Fast Pitch Open East). Part of the evaluation process includes national staff and player input.  This was the first time these two tournaments came to West Michigan and were played at the Art Van Sports Complex. USA Softball found the venue excellent and the staff caliber exceptional. 

To host one national tournament and succeed in a big way is one thing. To host two national tournaments, back-to-back, is somewhat unheard of for new communities.  Yet, it was done beautifully – and the hard work did not go unnoticed.  The tournament organizers were prepared, the umpires were among the best, and the field crew made sure every game had a national-caliber feel.  You cannot ask for a better national softball tournament experience than that when those factors come together.


USA Softball recognizes greatness when they see it.  Because of positive responses from teams playing at the Art Van Sports Complex, more USA Softball national tournaments are coming in 2020 and 2021.  I am proud to announce that the Art Van Sports Complex won bids to host the USA Softball Men’s Open East Fast Pitch and Men’s Class D Slow Pitch national tournaments in 2020 and 2021! 

This is a great opportunity for West Michigan to continue showcasing not just the Art Van Sports Complex but also the greatest resource – our people.  The organization and administration of a national tournament is difficult to manage, and West Michigan certainly has the ability to do so.  But the hospitality that comes with it is not just an asset to hosting these options, it’s the natural way we do things.  Teams feel welcome, and they know effort was made to provide the best experience possible – win or lose.  And it certainly helps when you have a facility like the Art Van Sports Complex to host these national options.  This facility is a treasure!

I have been involved in national tournaments as a player, tournament director, and national representative, and I can tell you that the Art Van Sports Complex, West Michigan Sports Commission, and the District 7 Umpires Association make up one of the best “teams” I have ever seen.  The quality is as good or better than most places I have seen, and as USA Softball continues to come to the Grand Rapids area, that “team” will only get better and the experience will resonate with those who participate.

On behalf of USA Softball, thank you to all who make our USA Softball national tournament options even better by offering the Art Van Sports Complex and while showcasing the amazing people of West Michigan who truly make these events even more special. 

See you in 2020 and 2021!!

Darrin Duistermars
Guest Blogger
Darrin is Midwest region vice president to the USA Softball board of directors.

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