When Canadian softball was struggling to keep pace with the United Stateses and Australias of the softball world in the early 1990s, a White Rock man had an ambitious idea. If we couldn’t go far afield to play the world to improve our game, why not bring the world here to us?

Invite international teams to South Surrey and create the biggest women’s softball tournament in the world? Sounds crazy, but it was just crazy enough to work. It turned Glen Todd, a quiet White Rock man who got into the sport only through coaching his daughters, into one of the most important individuals in world softball.

Todd began as a coach in the South Surrey/White Rock Minor Softball Association. A few years later elected president, under his leadership the association expanded from 11 to 110 teams in a matter of years. The reason for the explosion in size was simple: if there were kids who wanted to play, a place was found for them.

In 1986, Todd formed the White Rock Renegades, serving as coach of the initial team for 17 years. In that time, the Renegades would become recognized as one of the top women’s softball teams in North America winning a combined eight Canadian, eight Western Canadian, and 44 provincial championships. More of Todd’s players would be chosen to represent Canada on the national team than any other club in the country. Conservative estimates place the number of his players who’ve been awarded athletic scholarships to Canadian and American universities at over 300.

The pattern to Todd’s career becomes clear when one looks closely. Whenever something was needed, he always had the ability to make it happen. Problem: a first-class softball facility was needed in BC. Solution: Todd and Softball BC president Dale McMann toured many complexes across North America to understand what was needed to make the best facility possible for BC players. Todd scraped up the money, grants, bank loans, and Softball City in South Surrey was created, the crown jewel among the Pacific Northwest’s many gorgeous ball diamonds.

Tired of seeing many of his best players graduating from community ball with no local university program to progress to, he approached SFU and set up the women’s softball program in 1990. Supplying uniforms and equipment out of his own pocket and offering the free use of Softball City, the program remains the only intercollegiate women’s softball program in Canada. SFU would later present Todd with the Fred Dietrich Award for his contributions to the SFU athletic program.

And then there was the Canada Cup tournament created by Todd in 1993 to give the national team an opportunity to compete against the world’s best in softball, which had just been named an Olympic sport. Led by Todd and his faithful army of volunteers, the tournament has exploded in size and quality beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Tens of thousands saw games that first year; in recent years attendance has topped 110,000.

Countries from all over now consider the Canada Cup the premier international tournament in the world after the world championships and send their very best players year after year. The tournament has expanded to include the Futures world junior event, the Showcase Under-16 division, and the Special Olympics Friendship Division, believed to be the only event where athletes of all abilities compete at the same venue at the same time.

American tournaments have attempted to replicate the success of the Canada Cup, but none has come close to duplicating it. When it was announced that the tournament may cease in 2007, national programs and the International Softball Federation itself approached Todd and begged him to reconsider—the sport’s very life depended on the tournament now.

So it remains and Glen Todd’s stature as a builder of the game continues to grow. His field of dreams has become a reality. He built it and they came.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.