Greater Trail finding it hard to compete with larger centres

Low numbers hurt Greater Trail sports teams and ability to win championships

Not surprising the Trail Orioles Senior Men’s Baseball Club will not be bringing back this year’s provincial trophy. The club scored one run in three games.

This has been a down period for baseball in the Home of Champions, along with other sports, and the reason is simple – lack of participation. There simply are too few people playing the game for the area to return to the prominence it once had in diamond sports.

There is no competitive men’s league. There is no longer any senior fastball. What is left of female fastball is recreational (not a bad thing) rather than focused on elite competition.

Our stable population is aging in place. The athletically and scholasitcally elite raised here mostly leave here. That last was always largely true, it is just that there are many more opportunities away from here for members of that elite to prosper, and fewer opportunities here for the development of a stable, prosperous, lifetyle.

Not sure if that is necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing.

In light of that reality, it should be surprising that there are still so many high achievers in the local mix, and that there are still competitive programs in place for minor sports.

Minor baseball, hockey, swimming and winter sports are still producing elite and pretty elite competitive athletes and teams. There are young golfers making their way in the wider world, and lots of kids from this area achieve scholarships at institutions near and far.

We still live in an amazing place which provides amazing opportunities in almost any field. We likely have, pound for pound, more facilities for almost everything – which includes skateparks – than anywhere else I can think of. There are still excellent educational opportunities available. We have a reasonable level of access to health care.

Arts and entertainment and personal development are well supported. Overall, a pretty good place.

We may never again have the wherewithal, despite all that above, to promote population growth in the region. So we are unlikely to have in future any more of the dwindling amount of families of the age group that provided fodder for our minor sports leagues, from which came the elite representative teams that racked up all those trophies back in the day.

Just a reality. When I was young and involved in minor sports, Trail was one of the largest cities in the province, and Warfield, Rossland, Beaver Valley and the like all existed then, too. There were three or four bigger cities around, but the population threshhold sufficed to allow a very supportive community to promote provincial championship teams, and premier scholars, willy nilly.

Trail is now not even the second largest city in the Kootenays, and is a long, long way down the provincial list. Far enough down that there are not enough participants in a much expanded realm of opportunities for elite competition, especially team competition, to thrive.

Still a great place to live, and raise families. We just need to temper the expectations local history has created, and support whomever needs it in whatever dreams they envision.

• Apparently the Orange and Black scrimmage in two weeks is going to be an event, rather than a Smokies Training Camp afterthought. Still free admission, but amenities will be in place. Nice chance to preview the season. Other scrimmages may likewise have amenities available. Check the Times later on for details.

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