New batting cages (left) and protection for the new scoreboard are on the to-do list for Trail Little League thanks to the Columbia Basin Trust grant program.

Grants support sport in Lower Columbia Basin

From cleats to skis and bats to putters, local sports came out on top during the recent Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) granting cycle.

From cleats to skis and bats to putters, local sports came out on top during the recent Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) granting cycle.

Competing with other communities to host sporting events can be a challenge without a boost from modern technology.

That’s why the Trail Track and Field Club Society (TTFC) asked for, and received, funding this year through CBT’s 2015 Community Initiatives and Affected Areas program.

Stopwatches are considered dated in today’s digital world, so with close to $15,000 in hand from all seven communities, it’s ready and set for an electronic timing system.

“Right now we are hand-timing,” explains Dan Horan. “One of the meets we might be interested in hosting is the Junior Development Pentathlon. But with any kind of championship you have to have something more than a stopwatch these days.”

When Trail hosted the BC Seniors Games in 2011, Horan said the club rented a system from Kamloops, but most organizations are hesitant to lend out equipment.

“It’s the way track and field meets are run now, so we are hoping to get it in place next year,” he said, adding it could be used in the annual elementary school meet, this year slated for May 28, and for high school meets, should the event return to the Trail area.

The TTFC is growing with grade school aged children, he says, but there is no local high school support for a track and field program.

Horan spoke to the Trail Times following a high school meet he attended in Cranbrook, where students from Nakusp through to Nelson competed alongside a team of 35 from Revelstoke.

“There needs to be a teacher sponsor to start with and the teacher has to be keen,” he said. “I’ve tried various things, made school presentations and even offered to coach. But when the kids progress to high school, there is no program.”

Horan began as a member of the Trail club in 1964. He remembers the glory days when elite athletes such as BC Sports Hall of Fame’s Irene Piotrowski and 1972 Olympian Gerry Moro, competed in Trail.

Over time numbers have fallen off, but members who are involved remain dedicated to the sport ,alongside their parents.

“Nobody else in the West Kootenay has a track like ours,” he said. “Last year the track club and parents put together the elementary school meet (while teachers were on strike) and we picked up two or three really good athletes. Now we have some people interested in taking the ball and running with it.”

Other groups benefitting from the grant program are Trail Minor Baseball (TMB) with $4,900 for Andy Bilesky Park upgrades and Trail Youth Baseball with $6,500 for Butler Park field improvements.

Trail Little League will be using their funds to purchase tarps that will cover the infield during heavy rain events, and minimize rainout and cancelled games.

Additionally, the organization’s LED scoreboard, which was bought in 2012, needs to be protected against the heavier hitters, says TMB president Darren Miracle.

“Home runs can do damage to the clock if hit by balls,” he added.

Grant money also means the league is moving ahead with construction of new batting cages after the current ones were destroyed by vandals a few years ago.

“The batting cages, when complete, will be an excellent facility to help in the development of our youth baseball players,” said Miracle.

Field upgrades to the pitchers mound and home plate at Butler Park are under review, in addition to new tarps on order for the field.

“We are also looking at the addition or removal of some of the existing fencing around the park,” noted Miracle. “To make the game more competitive and exciting for fans.”

Besides the youth organizations, over $11,000 of CBT funds were allotted to the Rossland Trail Country Club for sprinkler upgrades at the Birchbank Golf Course; $4,000 to the Red Roofs Duathlon; and almost $7,000 for karate competitions in Trail, Beaver Valley and Rossland.

Winter sporting groups also received significant funds, including $12,000 to the Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club Society for a new Sno-Cat; $2,500 for the Beaver Valley Cross Country Ski Club to replace the rear tracks on its Sno-cat; and $7,600 to the West Kootenay Snow-Goers Association to construct a Sno-Cat garage and storage shed.

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