Rhea Cornell 27/9/86 - 26/7/02
Every year Women in the A Grade Summer Competition of the NSW Women's Baseball League set out their goals, and for each team their ultimate achievement is to attain the Rhea Cornell Shield, awarded to the Grand Final Winners.
But quite often we find that so little people actually know who Rhea Cornell was and why she is so special to our Women's League Community.
Rhea was born 27/9/86 and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a baby. We first met Rhea at the first game of our first Women's League Series in 2001 and at the time quite a few of us expected to see a quiet, sickly little girl who although could come along, would not be able to participate in the night's festivities.
What a shock we received when she burst onto the scene! Instead we met a young lady who wouldn't sit down for a second and who's only frustration was that she couldn't be out there playing ball with all of us. She instantly won the hearts of all those involved in the Women's League with her courageous and positive attitude despite the fact she had this terminal disease.
That night she was asked to throw out the first pitch, an honour that had her beaming with pride. Rhea was also presented with an autographed Baseball jacket signed by the NSW Women's team as well as memorabilia from the Australian Women's team. She was so excited to be involved despite the cold and her illness. It was at this time members on behalf of the Women's League asked her if she would like the honour of having the championship trophy named after. The smile on her face as she excitedly accepted was priceless and unforgettable.
Throughout the time until Rhea sadly passed away several players and coaches from the League kept in touch with her and even arranged two teams to visit her home town of Newcastle for an invitation game. As soon as we arrived we were once again greeted by her bright and bubbly personality and amazing smile.
Regrettably Rhea passed away on the 26/7/2002, not getting to share her 16th birthday as she had hoped. Although Rhea may have left the physical plane, she is in the hearts of everyone she met.
Her strength, passion and cheerfulness despite her illness is an inspiration to not only ball players but people from all walks of life.
The Rhea Cornell Shield was originally intended for the winter competition, as we have transferred the Women's League into a summer only competition in 2003/04 it was agreed the Rhea Cornell Shield should be the premiership shield for the summer League.