By Darryl G. Smart
Ever since his teenage years, Jeff Shortt has been involved with minor baseball in Simcoe in some way or another. It’s something he did after being inspired by the people that shaped him not only as a ball player, but as a person.
And now Shortt is the one inspiring. For decades, he has taken on a leadership role with the Simcoe Minor Baseball Association, and whenever there is anything going on that has to do with it, Shortt is there.
For his efforts over the weekend, Baseball Ontario named him the recipient of the Don McKnight Memorial Affiliate Volunteer of the Year.
“Winning this award is a great honour,” Shortt said. “But also knowing that our association had two other winners in Markus Woodley and Mike Storoschuk, is even more important. To my knowledge, SMBA has only ever won two awards at the OBA level.”
He said Scott MacDonald won the Coach of the Year 15 or 20 years ago, and his son, Jeryn Shortt, won Pitcher of the Year a few years ago.
“So for our association to win these awards this year is very special,” Shortt said. “It confirms that all the hard work our executive has put in over the years was well worth it.”
Shortt said his first recollection of donating his time to the Simcoe Giants program was when he was 19.
“I got into volunteering because I had some great coaches over the years like Harv Dickson, Ron Francis, Rick Scott, and Dave Smith. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to play hockey and baseball every year as a kid. Once my kids got into sports, I decided I would help out in any way, to make sure all kids got the best possible experience from the sports I loved playing.”
And like most people who are involved in sports, Shortt met like-minded people. For Shortt, it was SMBA president Cory Moulton.
“He had many years of experience on the SMBA board as president, so I jumped in as vice president when there was an opening,” Shortt said. “From there I learned the do’s and don’ts of being a volunteer. Having someone with Cory’s experience was invaluable.”
Eventually Moulton and Shortt switched positions. And Shortt ran with it.
“As a full-time coach on one team and part-time coach on another, he managed to do an excellent job as president of SMBA and treasurer of Southern Counties Baseball Association, while also assisting with many year-end tryouts and being the face and voice of Simcoe Minor Baseball,” the letter that nominated Shortt read. “He also stepped in as treasurer of SMBA when the treasurer had to step away. Jeff deserves this award every year, but has met stiff competition in the past from SMBA’s other great volunteers.”
Not only has the program thrived numbers-wise at all levels during Shortt’s tenure, it has become a destination for tournaments, which is something they plan to continue this summer after a couple years off because of COVID-19.
Shortt has also been instrumental in helping the rep program become a gold standard for not only winning provincial titles, but moving players on to the next level and shaping young people in whatever it is they do after playing ball.
But if you ask him, that groundwork was already done by those that held the torch before him and inspired him to be the volunteer he is.