Canadian softball loses one of its best

August 29, 2007

Ottawa, ON

Martin Cleary, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2007
When you open the garage door of the Read family home on Oriole Avenue in Kanata, you enter a special world that only a softball enthusiast could truly appreciate.
Unlike most garages, this space was a dedicated indoor batting cage at first, where national team players and local teams sought out softball hitting maestro Gil Read to improve their skills. Players would hit a ball off a tee, Read would videotape it and then the analysis began on the basement TV.
Converting his garage into a year-round classroom was a reflection of Read's absolute love of the sport as a successful coach for 25 years at the local, provincial, national and international levels.
Gil Read was team leader for the Canadian women's softball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Gil Read was team leader for the Canadian women's softball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen


In one of his finest moments, he paced the dugout as team leader for the Canadian women's softball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Read, a student of the game who taught his players to expect the unexpected, died suddenly on Sunday from a stroke at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus. He was 53.
While Read was driving his ATV up a steep slope seven weeks ago, it suddenly went straight up and landed on him. An experienced driver, Read was wearing a helmet, but the machine left him with head injuries. After five weeks in the hospital, he went home and appeared to be recovering well. But last week he became lightheaded and returned to the hospital.
"He was a tremendous friend and a tremendous person," said former national team player Randy Peck of Wakefield, who spent hundreds of hours refining his hitting with Read.
"He did more for ball in this area quietly than anyone realizes. He had tremendous ball knowledge, but was even a better person and friend."
Read, who co-owned the paralegal service Read Abstracts Ltd. with his brother, Robert, retired from coaching softball this year to spend more time with his wife, Georgia. But he did join his brother, Peter, on the Good Ol' Boys conventional softball team this summer. The team was scheduled to play in the Metro Old Timers Softball League final tonight.
Besides the Olympics, Read also was Softball Canada's team leader for the 2003 Olympic qualifier (gold) and the 2001 Pan American junior and senior women's championships (silvers).
As a coach, he started with T-ball in the early 1980s in Kanata and worked his way up to taking the Ontario men's under-18 team to the gold medal at the 1997, 2001 and 2005 Canada Summer Games. For two years, he coached the University of Ottawa women's fastball team, which won a provincial silver medal in 2005. He guided his various Kanata age group teams to five provincial class A titles and made three national championships.
A dedicated volunteer with Softball Canada, he served on its coaching committee from 1995-2002 as a coaching instructor and master course conductor. He also was involved with the coaching committee and the initiation program.
Read was president of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association in 2001 and 2002. He was a member of the Softball Ontario board of directors from 2002-04, and again in 2006. This year, he remained a director and sat on the OASA advisory council and its athlete/coach ad hoc committee.

As a teenager, Read was a minor football coach for the Rochester Lions. He later coached in the Kanata Minor Hockey Association and served as an archery instructor. In 2005, the Ottawa Sports Awards dinner honoured him with the Mark Lowry Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in sports administration and volunteerism.
Read is survived by his wife, Georgia, and sons Chris and Ron.
Visitation will be held at the Kelly Funeral Home on 580 Eagleson Road in Kanata on Sunday from 7-9 p.m., and on Monday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will be held on Tuesday at the Glen Cairn United Church on 140 Abbeyhill Drive at 11 a.m.


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