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Tara Henry Named Great Britain Head Coach

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Coming off a strong second place finish in the 2022 European Championship, Great Britain has appointed Tara Henry as national team head coach. 

A former UCLA standout and longtime international instructor and clinician, Henry will lead the British team through the 2023 portion of the WBSC Softball World Cup, as it attempts to advance to next summer’s finals in Italy. 

The full World Cup tournament will be played in Europe over the next two years, utilizing a new group-stage format. Later this year, 18 international teams will be drawn into three six-team groups that will compete this summer in Italy, Ireland and Spain. The two top finishers in each group, along with two wild card teams, will then advance to the World Cup finals in Italy next summer. 

Along with European champion Netherlands, Great Britain and Italy qualified for the group stage based on their podium finishes in last summer’s continental championship. 

“This job is near and dear to my heart,” Henry said. “After getting my Master’s degree at Brighton in 2017, I fell back in love with the game after some time away from softball. My passion for the game on the international stage, specifically in the UK, is one of the reasons I’m back in softball and observing the game here over the past six years has been nothing short of inspirational.”   

The next European Championship will also take place in 2024, although the site and qualification requirements have yet to be announced by WBSC Europe.

Henry takes over for Rachael Watkeys, who served as Great Britain head coach for six years. 

“I want to pay tribute to Rachael Watkeys, who grew the program so much over the past few years and helped the team reach new heights,” Henry said. “She built an incredibly strong foundation.”

A Californian who played for the Batbusters travel team, Henry was a four-year outfield starter at UCLA. She was part of the 2004 national championship team, scoring the final run in the title game against California. She also played against Michigan in the event’s first best-of-three championship series the following season and reached a total of three World Series. 

After completing her Masters in Sport for International Development at the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom, she founded the nonprofit organization Run the Bases. Based in Gambia, Run the Bases uses softball to “address and overcome gender inequalities by focusing on employment and education in local communities.” 

Henry has also coached internationally with Great Britain’s youth national teams, as well as with softball organizations in Botswana, Croatia, Malta and Peru. She has conducted clinics in Barcelona and San Sebastian, Spain; Bollate, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic and Gaborone, Botswana. She also serves as D1Softball’s managing editor. 

With Olympic inclusion still a possibility in 2028, Great Britain is trying to capitalize and build on its strong showing this past summer. Led by former USF All-American Georgina Corrick, who went 5-1 with 57 strikeouts in 33.2 innings, Great Britain posted an overall 9-2 record in the European Championship and beat eventual champion Netherlands in the round robin portion. 

“Following the successful European Championship campaign, we undertook very thorough analysis of the performance requirements, taking into account our athlete and staff feedback and taking counsel from other nations and international coaches,” said Gary Anderson, head of performance systems for the British Softball Federation and BaseballSoftballUK.”

Henry will lead efforts to assemble a technical staff who can help identify and develop talent across all age groups in the United Kingdom (teams that compete as Great Britain also include athletes from Northern Ireland, which along with England, Scotland and Wales make up the UK) and across the British diaspora.