Rachael Watkeys, Great Britain's most successful women’s softball head coach, has brought an end to a trailblazing period in charge by stepping down from her role after six years at the helm.
Watkeys, who was inducted into the British Softball Hall of Fame this year, has secured more wins and medals than any other head coach in the history of the programme.
During her tenure, Watkeys coached Great Britain at two World Championships and three European Championships, winning two European bronze medals and a silver in 2022, tying the best finish in programme history.
At the 2019 Olympic Qualifier, Watkeys led a GB women’s team that came second, one game away from qualification for Tokyo, representing a new high-water mark for the programme.
Watkeys said: “I want to thank the BSF for giving me the opportunity and trusting me in this role for all these years.
“I wish nothing but the best for the programme and the women's team in the future. If I can help the programme in any way to move forward, then I will always be available.”
.@GBWomenSoftball Head Coach Rachael Watkeys has stepped down from her role with immediate effect.
On behalf of the British Softball Federation, thank you Rachael - your impact on GB Softball is immeasurable, and best of luck in the future!
READ: https://t.co/wfNh715Ycm pic.twitter.com/OE6T4UJ7iZ
— British Softball Federation (@BritishSoftball) September 2, 2022
Prior to coaching, Watkeys represented Great Britain as a player, including on the GB Women’s Team that won a European silver medal in 2009 before hanging up the bat after the 2010 World Championships.
Before joining the senior team as head coach, Watkeys led GB’s Under-19 Women’s team from 2012-2015 and again in 2017, taking them to two World Championships.
British Softball Federation President Ieuan Gale said: “On behalf of British Softball, I would like to express my most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for Rachael's hard work over the last several years.
“With Rachael at the helm of the Women’s programme she has taken the team to the very top of European softball and right to the doorstep of Olympic qualification.
“Her work with the Women's Team and the U-19 Team before that has solidified the vital foundations for a programme that has such lofty aspirations. On behalf of players and coaches past, present and future, thank you.”
Away from the field, Watkeys is credited with professionalising the GB Senior Women’s Team programme and played a vital role in securing UK Sport National Squad Support Funding in 2020.
John Boyd, CEO of BaseballSoftballUK, added: “The sport will be long indebted to her for her formative contribution to the UK Sport National Squads Support Fund plan.
“Rachael has always given generously of her time and has been an advocate for the sport at every turn, and we wish her the best of luck and congratulations on a remarkable career.”