In this episode of “The Journey of My Mother’s Son” podcast, I sit down to talk with Ryan Woodward.

Ryan is a board member of the International Women’s Baseball Center (IWBC).  We first connected back in 2016 when my old organization, the BIG Vision Foundation, in partnership with the IWBC sponsored the Ruth Hartman Memorial Girl’s Baseball Festival.

At the time, Ryan was living in Wilmington, Delaware and wasn’t a member of the IWBC board yet.  He wasn’t sure if he really should to drive up to check out the event.  After some convincing from his friend, Debbie Pierson, he did go, and it turned out to literally be a life changing event for him.

A few weeks later, he received a call from IWBC president, Kat Williams asking him to serve on the organizations board.  He accepted, and the rest is history.  Ryan was the brainchild of the IWBC’s Women in Baseball Week and has been an active member of the board since he joined the organization.

Here’s a little bit about what the IWBC is working on today:

Education. Preservation. Participation.

Working together, each is critical to the ultimate goal of the IWBC, to build #APlaceOfTheirOwn. It is a mindset, a dream of what we want baseball to be for women and girls–for everyone–around the world. And with your help, it will soon be a physical destination.

From an activities and community building serving Rockford’s Blackhawk neighborhood to a world-class museum honoring the pioneers and future stars of baseball, our vision is a shared vision. Join us on this journey!

A Vision for the Future – Our Proposal

​The International Women’s Baseball Center Museum and Activity Center will be the first and only one of its kind in the world.

The multi-phased project is a $10 million investment in the southeast side of Rockford Illinois, a mile from downtown, and will bring world-wide attention, increased tourism and economic development.

The Museum will preserve the long history and impact of sports on the lives of girls and women and will include the Women’s Baseball Hall of Fame and a Plaza with 9 memorials honoring many who played an important role in the sport’s history.  Honorees to date include Penny Marshall and African-American women in baseball.

To further preserve the region’s sport heritage, the IWBC is working to designate Beyer Stadium’s ticket booth and original steps as a local historic landmark and get them added to the National Registry of Historic Places. The history of Beyer Stadium athletes, including the Rockford Peaches, will be celebrated.

The IWBC proposal includes an Activity Center on their existing property to the west of Beyer Stadium Park. The Activity Center will provide indoor batting and pitching cages along with open space for neighborhood and area high school and college baseball team use. The facility will work in conjunction with the Blackhawk Boys & Girls Club and Booker Washington Center to provide sporting opportunities and programming. The Activity Center will benefit all kids through unique opportunities to engage them with opportunities to play the game and learn about career paths connected to the sport.

Click on either of the links below to listen to the conversation.