Trail’s famous fan support lacking

Sports ‘n’ Things with Dave Thompson

Keeping an eye and ear on the B.C. Provincial Little League championship game between Trail and Hastings (East Vancouver), as I write this.

It is Trail’s sixth and final round robin game, and a win will likely guarantee them a spot in the playoffs this weekend. A loss might do the same for Hastings – so some pressure involved.

The Little Mountain organization is the oldest Little League group in B.C. – preceding LL arrival in Trail by two years, and like Trail has hosted many playdowns in the genre.

The competition this year has been very balanced – no unbeaten teams, and no winless ones, so the results of the last two days of round robin play have significance.

All this as a lead in to the way things have changed around here, however, and not necessarily to my liking.

It used to be that the town mostly rallied around local teams aspiring to championships. Even if those teams were not called Smoke Eaters. That, of course, is why so many championships in sports, not just hockey, were attained by local teams. Ergo – “Best Sports Town in B.C.,” and the Big Rock outside KSCU.

Not, apparently, so much anymore. When Andy Bilesky and his lieutenants headed out for post-district play, the town was engaged. Local radio often carried live broadcasts and ears were tuned in across the community, in homes, cars and workplaces.

This week, when I have mentioned the results to friends, the responses have been tepid, even from some who actually journeyed through such playoff runs all the way to Williamsport’s apex event for Little League, the World Series. Some have asked such as, “Why do you have the sound up on your phone, we don’t care about that?”

It is, to me, disappointing that people less busy than their more life-involved forebears take little or no interest in local kids aspiring to excellence – other, of course, than the well-funded and heavily marketed junior hockey team in town. Nothing against the Smoke Eaters – you all know I am an ardent supporter, but I yearn a bit for the community interest in local achievement of years gone by.

Of course, the town used to produce more championship athletes and teams, but that was a function of people giving a damn about such things and supporting those, of all ages, working towards and aspiring to them. That giving a damn is why this area has such amazing facilities for such a wide variety of activities, and not just sports activities, either.

Without the interest, and logistical support created by the interest, of course it has been harder for locals to achieve championships – it is a bottom up world for them, after all.

That’s my wake up rant for today.


There is good baseball in town the next two weekends, for those who care to pay the least bit of attention.

The senior Orioles host Vernon for games Saturday (4&6 pm) and Sunday (10am) and then host the senior men’s provincials all at iconic Butler Park next Friday through Sunday. The senior team is managed, coached and staffed mostly by graduates of our Little and Minor league programs, some of them former proudly representative-of-Trail champions.

Wouldn’t hurt if a few of you could get out and support the Orioles, and it isn’t difficult. Give it a try.

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