Our chat with Ryan Woodward, Heritage Projects Coordinator at the International Women's Baseball Center in Rockford, Illinois.
When was the IWBC founded and what is its mission?
On February 22, 2014, a group of women gathered in California, and over pizza and beer, dreamed up an organization that would both preserve the past and promote the future of girls and women in baseball. Over the past few years, the IWBC has held symposia and conferences, sponsored tournaments (including the Women's Baseball World Cup), and hosted the largest all-female baseball tournaments in U.S. history.
At IWBC, education is the cornerstone of our mission to protect, preserve, and promote all aspects of women’s baseball, both on and off the field. We strive to inspire the next generation of players by helping them realize their dreams not only of participating in the sport, but also of passing on all they will learn and achieve for generations to come.
How does the IWBC aim to impact the community?
Beyond the economic impact our events bring to hosting communities, the IWBC is proud to sponsor a variety of programming for diverse audiences that, in particular, share the love of baseball with young people. Examples of our youth outreach include annually hosting or sponsoring the Baseball For All Nationals tournament, holding MLB PLAY BALL events, and supporting local youth teams such as Rockford’s Lil’ Peaches Girls Baseball program. For others, our commemorative events such as the 2019 Penny Marshall Celebration or the 2022 A League of Their Own anniversary drew thousands to the area.
The IWBC has additionally sponsored women’s baseball tournaments, book clubs, art contests, equipment donation drives, the annual Women in Baseball Week event, and co-sponsors an annual Women in Baseball Conference with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
Who are famous alumni or people associated with the organization?
There is room for everyone to get involved with the IWBC and we are proud of the diversity of our team of directors, staff, committee members, and volunteers. This team consists of baseball scholars, historians, umpires, and ballplayers, among others. We are most proud of, and strive every day to live up to the standard set by our founding directors, who include former professional baseball players Maybelle Blair, Shirley Burkovich, Jane Moffet, and Karen Violetta Kunkel.
How can people support the International Women's Baseball Center?
There are many ways to support the IWBC, each as valuable as the next. Opportunities of support include joining an IWBC committee, donating funds and artifacts, becoming a member, and attending our events. Just as important, we believe baseball is for everyone and want to connect with all who share our passion in leveling the playing field. Follow us on social media and when you are ready to step to the sport in any of the ways mentioned here, reach out at www.iwbc.org to connect with us.
>> Donate HERE
What does "Support Local Baseball" mean to you?
Supporting local baseball means providing opportunities for participation for those of all skill levels as much as possible. That support can mean monetary as well as coming out to watch and help as well as providing publicity and awareness. Supporting local baseball does not just mean for players but any part of the game –umpires, coaches, and fan support.
You can learn more about the International Women's Baseball Center by visiting their website.