CATHY Russell has earned a piece of history as she leads the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association into the 2013-14 season.
She is the first female president of the association, which was formed 120 years ago.
“I hope it is more successful than Julia (Gillard),” she laughed.
“It is tough, and it can be tough, but I just like to be judged on my merits,” she added.
Russell is far from a rookie in the administration of the sport, having held executive positions with Ex-Servicemen.
From 2005-06, she had three seasons as club secretary, and two as president which included the jubilee year.
The Bomaderry High School head science teacher qualified as a level 2 coach in 2010-11, and has enjoyed success as manager of her school’s senior team and regional convener for South Coast boys cricket.
“I am actually doing a course in educational leadership, so in a way, doing this is a bit like professional development for me. So it will be a good experience and it will be challenging,” she said.
Russell has also been involved in raising many thousands of dollars through local sporting bodies.
She has been a driving force in organising Pink Stumps Day events, and also the Shoalhaven Men in Sport calendars.
The association had other female executive members during the 1980s when Lyn Taylor and Audrey Hutchison served as secretary, and Betty Rudd as treasurer.
But Russell is the first to be elected president.
She succeeds life member David Sloane who stepped down after 13 years in the chair.
That lengthy term has been bettered only by Foster Emery (16 years) and Artie Smith (14).
Another long-serving executive not to seek re-election was Mark Kemsley who had eight years as treasurer.
His successor is Bob Brooks who previously served the SDCA as president and secretary during the 1980s and ‘90s, but has plenty of experience handling the finances of the Ulladulla United club.
Nowra Cricket Club’s Chris Morris will join her on the executive as vice president, and Phil Newlyn will act as secretary.
Russell was elected in the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association’s meeting in early August.
“It was just approached during the off season and I thought it would be a good challenge to take up, so when I was nominated I accepted,” she explained.
“I was pretty shell shocked actually, and I think everyone was pretty shell shocked. But I think it is going to be a great team.”
One of the things Russell is excited about this season is the introduction of the Batemans Bay Cricket Club into the competition.
This was proposed to SDCA delegates over two months ago.
“It was all very positive and they were very keen to join our competition and recognised that we have a very strong competition. Down there they are losing players and losing teams and they don’t wasn’t to say to kids and players that there is no competition,” she said.
Batemans Bay will enter teams in first, second and third grades and possibly four junior teams.
Russell said Batemans Bay will take out the bye round.
“I think this is a good thing, especially when it is a two day game. That’s two weeks without playing and a long time to be away from cricket,” she said.
“I think it’s great to be playing against players that you probably haven’t seen before, or only the rep players may have seen, so it makes the competition more interesting.”
“And I think that some of the young cricketers are quite excited about travelling down to Batemans Bay and having a road trip and possibly a night out,” she laughed.
Russell said there is a possibility of Batemans Bay being incorporated into the Shoalhaven representative teams.
“With Batemans Bay in the competition, one of things we discussed is them possibly representing Shoalhaven in our rep teams, so I think our rep teams are going to get even stronger.
Russell said her main aim was to see a really fair competition where players enjoy their time playing cricket.
This included getting on top of sledging when players went beyond competitive banter.
“From a personal perspective, I don’t want to go to games and see people get so angry on the field that incidents happen,” she said.
“That shouldn’t happen. It is their recreation and it is country cricket. And they might be first grade, but it doesn’t matter. Cricketers should have the right to go out there and be competitive and not be personally attacked.
“I think the umpires would be on board with that as well because they cop a bit too.
“But mainly I just want to promote cricket as much as possible.”