By Marty Gitlin
National Pro Fastpitch is excited to announce that Cheri Kempf has been hired as its new commissioner and manager of game-day operations.
Kempf is a long-time supporter of the women’s softball league, which features six teams throughout the United States. She has played an integral role with the NPF television broadcasting team for various networks and has been working with the league as a consultant for the past few months.
The hiring of Kempf is one of the strategic moves the NPF has made in recent weeks to build a strong foundation that will position the league for long-term success.
“The league is fortunate to be benefiting from her expertise and passion for fast-pitch softball and NPF. She is well connected with the softball community and a staunch advocate of our efforts to build a strong and vibrant professional league,” stated Chicago Bandits team owner and former league President Bill Conroy.
Kempf competed as a pitcher on the 1992 US National Team that earned a gold medal in the World Cup in Beijing, China. In 2002, she wrote an instructional book titled “The Softball Pitching Edge” that has also been produced in video form. She has since worked with ESPN and other networks to broadcast NPF and college games.
The high ratings of those telecasts and others involving premier college teams has encouraged Kempf about the future of the professional game in this country. She is particularly optimistic about NPF.
“It’s a product that people enjoy, a product that captures them,” she said. “People who have never seen fastpitch softball before can turn on the TV and see a pitcher throwing the ball 60-70 miles an hour and other women hitting, running and diving for the ball. I’m so impressed with how talented these young women are. I have so much respect for what they bring to the game.”
Kempf will be responsible for strengthening game-day operations and enhancing opportunities and communication with the players, whom she considers the league’s strongest asset.
She is also intent on strengthening and increasing ownership for the league, which is preparing to launch its third season (under new league ownership). She is hopeful that NPF will continue to add owners committed to the future of fastpitch softball and the organization itself.
“The most important aspect of solidifying the league is to strengthen ownership and to be consistent with the growth of the league,” she said. “We have six teams, which gives us limited opportunity. We need to continue from an ownership standpoint to explore viable options and venues.”
“The key to that is to continue to find owners who understand that first and foremost, the league has to thrive. Once the league thrives, individual team success will follow. I am proud of the group of owners that have withstood the challenges that any new entity faces and I look forward to finding that type of leadership and commitment in future team owners.”
Kempf will serve as the league’s official spokesperson, maintain a coaching pool to assist teams with the acquisition of elite field managers and coaches, and oversee player trades, releases and signings.
Among her other duties will include administering and conducting the annual NPF Senior Draft, working with the rules committee to evaluate, develop, change and administer game rules, and interpret and enforce the league code of conduct, rules, policies and procedures.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Denver. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). The league was acquired by team owners in January of 2005 from the founders, the Cowles family.