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INDUCTEE 2007 - ATHLETE  Val Greenwall


 


Introductory Comments by Sandra Wright


Val Greenwall first caused a sensation as a 12 year old at the Pee Wee Softball Provincials in Lethbridge.  No one had ever seen a girl her age pitch the way she did with her “windmill” style, just like an adult.  Val was the “talk of the town”, newspapers, TV all wanted the story of “The Little Girl from Wetaskiwin”.  It seems that Val’s dad, Al, was a pretty good softball pitcher himself and Val and her brother copied and practiced like their dad.  Al did teach Val the fancy shots: the change up, inside curve, outside curve.  Val was dedicated and practiced at home with her family. Eventually she was throwing the ball so hard her mother had to hand over the duties as catcher to Val’s brother and dad.  Val set the pace for her age group, the other girls tried copying her style…but they were never as good as Val.

Because she was so talented, if her Wetaskiwin team didn’t make the Provincials, teams from Edmonton and Camrose, picked up Val.  Often she played in an older age category; that made her even more of a threat.  Playing with the older girls, Val pitched from a further distance, when she played in her own age category, she was able to closer to home plate.   Then her pitches were so fast that the opposition cowered in fear.

Val started playing in the Junior Canadians, the under 21-age category, in 1978 when she was 15.   Alberta teams had been struggling at the Canadian Championships, but with Val as their pitcher, the team was third and Val was named the Most Valuable Player in the Championship.  The next year Val played for the Camrose Imperials, they won the Canadians and Val was named top pitcher.  For three more years, until 1982, Val played on the Alberta team in the Canadian Championships and every year she garnered the top pitcher award.  During that 5 year span the Alberta team won twice, was second once and third twice…helped by the “bright light from Wetaskiwin”… Val.

Val was offered a volleyball scholarship to Red Deer College but softball was her love.  However, there wasn’t much opportunity in her sport at Canadian colleges and universities.  At 5AM one morning when Val was in Grade 12 she unexpectedly received a call from a softball coach in Texas.  There weren’t scouts like there are nowadays, he had heard about Val from a former teammate of hers, Cheryl Bichel, who was going to Sam Houston University.  The coach had mentioned to Cheryl that he was in desperate need of a pitcher.  She suggested Val and the rest is history.  Val and her dad flew to Texas for a tryout, Val threw only 5 pitches for the coach, he was duly impressed and Val made the Sam Houston Lady Bearkat Softball team.

The first year at Sam Houston Val’s team won the NAIA National Championships, the schools first national championship.  The next year, 1982, her team moved up to the highest division in intercollegiate sports, the NCAA, and again they won the National Championships. That team holds the distinction of being the only school to win back-to-back national championships by moving up a division.  Besides winning, Val was named Most Valuable Player.  It was the same year that she was named Top Pitcher in the Canadian Junior Championships.  What an incredible feat, top pitcher in Canada and most valuable player in the US in the same year.  WOW

Well, it was more than the lure of softball that attracted Val to Texas as she is still there, She met her husband Kevin, a native Texan, while at university and they have been married for 23 years.  They have 2 athletic children, Tyler and Megan, who have both received athletic scholarships to US universities, Tyler in football and Megan in softball.   Kevin and Val both teach at Splendora High School where Kevin is the Athletic Director and Val is the Women’s Athletic Director.  They are both award winning coaches.   When Val coached her high school softball team to the state championship in 2001 they were honoured at the Houston Astro home park, “Minute Maid Field” where Val threw the ceremonial first pitch, of course a strike right over the plate.  She still has the “touch”.

Val, we are so pleased to have you back in Wetaskiwin and your induction tonight into the Wetaskiwin Sports Hall of Fame is most deserved.   Presenting the plaque to Val tonight is Marilyn Sneden, a board member and a Hall of Fame softball player herself who watched Val play and followed her career.


Return to Greenwall Inductee page.

 






 
 

 

 

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