A softball coach from Aldergrove was inducted into Softball Canada’s Hall of Fame this week after 34 years of coaching softball in Metro Vancouver.
Mike Renney was born into a family of two in Aldergrove, thought of as a quiet child by his mother Nola.
It was this year, at age 55, that Renney was inducted into Softball Canada’s Hall of Fame this past week in Richmond.
His 82-year-old mother Nola still lives in Aldergrove, and has since 1976, in the same house where, as a single mother, she raised both Mike and his older sister Carol.
“In those days, there wasn’t a lot of mothers working,” Nola recalled.
“But it was better for them to find things to do in Aldergrove, than being out and about in Vancouver where I worked. That’s why we moved out here,” she explained.
Renney began coaching Abbotsford Minor League softball at the age of 20, in 1984, and continued to until 1990.
Gradually, Renney worked his way up through the ranks into junior- and senior-level coaching positions. Eventually, in 1994 he got work as the head coach of the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Clan.
There, Renney coached the team in a program that played in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and was recognized at the only Canadian softball team to be added to the NCAA Division II in 2016.
“Under his watch, the program has become one of the top collegiate programs in North America, with the team producing many players to Team Canada, including 11 Olympians, while winning four National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics titles,” an SFU press release states.
Renney and the team would travel all over the global to softball competitions.
“He’s travelled so much,” his mother said, explaining that her son hit 54 countries before the age of 54.
During his tour of duty at SFU, Renney spent 11 of those years coaching the Women’s National Team program also – first as an assistant coach from 1994 to 2000, and then as head coach from 2001 to 2004.
“All I hear is good stuff about his coaching,” said Nola.
“Though it is strict,” she said “at such a level, it has to be.”
Now, at 55, the coach has retired from SFU and continues to coach and consult with Softball Canada, hosting clinics for the sport in cities all over the world.
“This summer he was in Europe,” Nola said.
“His job and passion suits him because he loves to travel,” she said.
“He even took me to England for a week two years ago just after I turned 80.”
And last year, Renney took his mom to the Maritimes for a week during his days off work.
While they were there Renney pointed out the many places he had stayed with the team during their tours on the road.
“When I consider my son being brought up with no father figure he’s done very well for himself,” Mom said.
“I must have done something right.”
Most notably, Renney coached in a total of three Olympic Games (1996, 2000, and 2004), three WBSC Women’s Softball World Championships (1994, 1998, and 2002), and two Pan American Games in 1995 and 2003.
Renney was also inducted into the Softball BC Hall of Fame in 2012 and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2014.
When asked about his career as a softball coach, Renney talked about the friendships he has fostered along the way,
“The people and the athletes have been the most rewarding part.
I’ve been very fortunate to have success, travel the world and compete at the pinnacle of sports and it’s the great people I’ve worked with that makes it very rewarding,” Renney said.
Renney currently lives in Burnaby.