Submitted by S&CSHOF
Charlene Brown grew up in the Falun area when Falun was known as the “Fastball Capital of Alberta” so Falun fastball player earns spot in local sports hall of fame it was almost a given that she should become involved in the sport. Charlene started playing when she was six and as she progressed through the age groups she took part in 16 provincial championships. When she was 10 Charlene started pitching and with practice and experience she developed her skill as a pitcher and became one of the best female pitchers in Alberta. Because of her exceptional pitching prowess, Charlene was picked up by other teams to compete in major championships. Charlene’s skill allowed her to compete at the national championships six times and she had an outstanding personal pitching record at this level. In 1996 Charlene was named Alberta Female Adult Fast Pitch Player of the Year. Because of her commendable achievements in fastball, Charlene is being inducted into the Wetaskiwin & County Sports Hall of Fame.
Throughout the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s the Falun ball diamonds were a “hotbed” of activity. Children of all ages and most of the community were involved in fastball. The Coles were no exception. In fact, Charlene’s dad Larry coached her for most of her beginning years until she left Falun to play in Red Deer in 1988. The Falun girl’s teams hadn’t been as successful as the boys and were teased about their lack of winning. Charlene and her teammates were motivated to correct this and that they did. As Mites they won the provincials in 1982. In 1984 as Squirts they were zone champions and won the silver medal at the provincials. Two years later in 1986 competing at the Pee Wee Level, the girls repeated as zone champions and won the silver medal at the provincials. As Bantams in 1987 the girls again won the zone championships and competed at the provincial level. That year Charlene was picked up by the Ponoka Bantam team to compete at the Alberta Summer Games.
Once Charlene was at the Midget level she began playing with teams in larger centers. During the rest of her playing career Charlene won four more provincial titles and was a competitor at the national championships six different times. Charlene’s first experience at the national level was in 1991 when she was picked up by the Lloydminster Midgets after losing to them in provincials with the Edmonton Anavets. The next year Charlene again played for the Edmonton Anavets Junior Women’s Team. With two shutouts, Charlene led the Anavets to the 1992 provincial title and a berth the national championships. In 1993 Charlene played for the Edmonton Magicians Junior Ladies team and they also won the provincial title and competed at the nationals. In the 1996 season, her third year with the Red Deer Cardinals, Charlene’s work on the mound helped the Cardinals win the provincial title and a berth to the nationals. At the nationals Charlene was the best Alberta player leading her team in batting with a .393 average, seventh best in Canada. She pitched 21 innings with 15 strike-outs, won two of three games, added a save to her record and was rewarded with three game MVP awards. In 1997, Charlene tried out for and played with Calahoo Senior Women’s team. That year, Calahoo won provincials and a berth to the national championships. The team did very well in the round robin, but fell short in playoffs losing in the bronze medal game. In 1999, Charlene returned to Red Deer as a player with the Senior Women’s team. They competed in provincials and won the silver medal which again earned another berth to nationals. In 1999 Charlene retired as a player.
During her career, to improve her pitching skills Charlene attended pitching clinics and spent hours practicing. Charlene’s favourite pitches were the rise ball and the change up. Besides these pitches, her repertoire included the curve, drop-ball and off speed pitches. Charlene was also a great outfielder, a position she played when she wasn’t pitching. She also was a pretty good batter. Everything included, Charlene was an excellent all-around good ball player and an asset to any team.
Because of her exceptional skill Charlene received many awards. In 1992 Charlene was the female recipient of the Claude Deschamps Memorial Fund Scholarship, an award given to one female and one male in Canada to help further their education at a post-secondary institution. In 1993 Charlene received the Fastball Award at the Wetaskiwin City and County Annual Sports Awards celebration. Her accomplishments and dossier in 1996 resulted in Charlene being awarded Softball Alberta’s Adult Fast Pitch Player of the Year. Amazingly, she was chosen for this award when she was still a Junior, bettering all of the senior ball players in Alberta. That same year, she was also one of three women nominated for the Red Deer Female Athlete of the Year.
Charlene has also given back to her sport through pitching and skills clinics, coaching and setting up programs. On her own and at Alberta Softball Association clinics she worked at developing pitching skills among young players by conducting clinics throughout Alberta and even did one for them in Yellowknife, NWT. Along with her husband Neil, Charlene started the “Learn to Play Program” in Wetaskiwin. This program provides an opportunity for young athletes to learn, participate and excel at fastball. In 1998, Charlene and her husband Neil were asked to coach a Bantam girls team in Wetaskiwin and took them to provincials. This same year, they were also asked to help select and form an all-star team for Softball Alberta which would represent Alberta in a friendship exchange tour against Hokkaido, Japan. When their children became involved in softball, Charlene and Neil returned to coaching. As a team from 2005-2014, they coached Wetaskiwin youngsters and their teams won many league championships and as well, qualified for eight provincial softball championships where they won a gold, silver and bronze medal. In 2012 Charlene and Neil were recognized for their dedication and contributions with a merit award from Softball Alberta.
Charlene’s achievements in fastball could only be attained with a passion for her sport, dedication, hours of practice, a competitive spirit and of course an innate athletic ability. Charlene is a credit to our community for the effort she puts in to giving back.