The Jackie Robinson Training Complex, formerly known as Historic Dodgertown, is pleased to welcome the China Women’s Junior National Softball team as they return for training at this internationally recognized sports complex.
The China National Team has trained at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex on three occasions since 2017, and the complex has a long history welcoming baseball and softball teams and executives from China and throughout the world.
For this visit, China has brought their Junior National Team to Vero Beach for five weeks of instruction. The girls, ages 15 to 19, are prospects for the National Team, whose goal is to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The 22 team members all hail from China, from different provinces throughout their country. Two American and three Chinese coaches teach and oversee the instruction offered to the girls.
For American coaches Victoria Draper and Hunter Veach, this as an opportunity to teach not only the current players, but also their coaching counterparts on important elements to grow the game now as well as for future generations.
Last year Draper played for the Chinese Beijing Eagles, a team in the National Pro Fastpitch League consisting of China National Team players.
Draper, acting in a lead coach capacity, said two elements she is focusing on with the Junior Team are throwing and base-running. “Throwing is the most under-taught element of softball,” Draper said, stressing that proper mechanics and correct arm form reduces injuries. Their base-running program is the one of the hardest in the world, she said.
The Jackie Robinson Training Complex provides an ideal setting for building a team. From the many fields, batting cages, fitness rooms and clubhouses, to living quarters, meals and recreation, the all-inclusive, on-site amenities are well-suited for training and team-building.
In particular, Draper acknowledged the grounds crew for excellent field conditions, and for the entire staff’s welcome and inclusion of foreign teams.
“We don’t have to worry about the fields. They (grounds crew) set up and get the fields ready to the highest level of quality. The attention to detail is like no other.
“Jackie Robinson stood for inclusion,” Draper continued, adding how even the kitchen staff learned Chinese cooking to prepare native dishes for the Junior National Team. “Even the kitchen staff’s meals are honoring the players’ heritage.”
The Jackie Robinson Training Complex, which originally opened in 1948 as Dodgertown, has long been recognized as an international sports facility, conference and event center, and welcomes teams in the sports of baseball, softball, football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse and land training for water sports.
As an investment to grow the game of softball, in 2012 the Quad complex for softball opened. The Quad has been the host venue for the Florida Junior College Women’s Softball Championship (JUCO), the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Softball Championship, and is the southern home for Softball Factory.
Major League Baseball continues its support of softball and baseball development at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. Launched in 2017 and continuing this year for its third annual event (July 12-18), the Softball Elite Development Invitational camp welcomes young women from across the United States to participate in the elite program.
On Jan. 2, 2019 the Commissioner’s Office at Major League Baseball assumed management operations of the former Historic Dodgertown, and on April 2 renamed the complex the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. In attendance at the press conference were Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred, former Dodgers owner and former Historic Dodgertown Chairman Peter O’Malley, and Mrs. (Jackie) Rachel Robinson with Sharon and David Robinson.
Since opening 70 years ago, teams and executives from China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Canada, South Africa, France and throughout Latin America have visited and played on the Jackie Robinson Training Complex major league designed fields, trained on the state-of-the-art equipment, stayed in the on-site hotel villa rooms and utilized the meeting rooms, dining hall and recreational amenities.