Vounteers needed for minor baseball

by Phil Ambroziak

In order for this year’s Meadow Lake Minor Baseball season to hit a home run, more volunteers need to step up to the plate.

A registration meeting held April 4 at the Meadow Lake and District Arena mezzanine drew only a small number of people, most of which were on hand to register their children for the sport opposed to offering their services as a coach or volunteer. Former club president Len Esau, who relinquished his duties during the meeting, said there will be future opportunities for people to come forward although it could take some convincing.

“The purpose of tonight’s meeting was to get things rolling and to start registering some of the players, but not enough people showed up to fill commissioner and coaching positions, so we will have to look through the registration forms and see who checked off the box stating they would lend their time as a helper,” Esau said. “We usually have to twist some arms and let them know there won’t be any teams if there are no coaches to look after them.”

Regan Beck, who said he would take on co-president responsibilities alongside fellow volunteer Davin Hildebrand, said many people are not keen on coaching baseball because it’s a sport many haven’t played a lot themselves.

“We will be willing to hold clinics for coaches,” Beck noted.

The minor baseball season traditionally runs from early May to the end of June and is open to players from as young as three years to as old as 18 years. It usually attracts between 120-150 players per season.

“Meadow Lake did not have baseball for a number of years, but it slowly started up 20 years ago or more,” Esau said. “It’s usually quite successful with teams in every division – from T-ball to midget. We also started a new program last year called Rally Cap. The idea behind it is to teach the kids the different skills and fundamentals of baseball. Every time they learn a new skill, they receive a different coloured ball cap.”

This program is open to children between the ages of three and eight.

“It’s a different approach on coaching kids and it includes a lot of parent involvement,” Beck said. “We had a lot of success with it last year and I think we will have a 100 per cent return this year because the kids really liked it.

Esau described the program as a lot of fun for those who participated.

“It also increased their level of interest in the sport,” he continued. “That’s what you want – to see kids become interested in playing the game.”

In March, a soccer registration night was held at the mezzanine. Unlike the baseball meeting, the room was filled to capacity that evening with parents and children expressing their anticipation for the upcoming soccer season. Esau admitted it’s much more difficult to generate the same enthusiasm for baseball.

“Soccer is such an easy sport to get into – all you need is a pair of shoes and a pair of legs,” he said. “I’m not saying there is no skill involved, but soccer also tends to have larger teams and is just a sport that is very easy for a lot of people to access.”

In an effort to help increase baseball registration, KidSport – a not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance for registration fees and equipment to kids aged 18 and under – will be running a program at the local elementary schools to generate interest in the sport.

“Maybe kids will come to realize this is a sport they would like to play,” Esau said.

Registration forms have also been dropped off at the area schools, so anyone interested in signing up for minor baseball can simply request a registration form from their school.

“I think it will be an exciting year for baseball, especially with the Summer Games coming up,” Esau concluded. “Our Bantam kids will have an opportunity to try out for that.”

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