Under the scorching sun on Saturday afternoon, parents, players, coaches and spectators gathered at Andy Bilesky Park in Trail for the opening ceremonies of the B.C. Provincial Little League Championships.
Teams from across the province made their way to Trail for the week-long tournament and Rob Buljevic, manager for the team from Hastings, District 6 champs, says he is happy to be back in Trail to play some baseball.
“Trail has done a great job,” he said after the opening ceremonies were finished.
“This is my second time out here in the last two years. It’s a great community. I grew up in a small town and they show their pride in the community. They’ve got great volunteers, you have a great park here and we were looking forward to going to this. We have stayed up in Rossland before and we thought it was a great experience and we were looking forward to coming back. It’s always a great time.”
Duncan Robertson, head coach for the District 1 champions, Dunbar, says he and the team are enthusiastic about playing some ball and visiting Trail.
“It is very exciting and you don’t always get an opportunity to do this,” he said. “A lot of times you fall short or it doesn’t work out, so it is super special for me and the team this year. It’s also really fabulous that we can come out to Trail and take in everything. It looks and feels like an awesome community.”
Buljevic says the nine-and-10-year-old players hitting the field in this year’s championship are getting a little taste of what could come for them at the next level of play and provides motivation for future seasons.
“I think it’s building steps to the 11 and 12 [age group], which is huge,” he said.
“You get to go to Williamsport, Pennsylvania if you win the provincials, and the Canadians. So this is a stepping stone to get them prepared for that.
“My older son went through that and now we get to do the same thing with my youngest, Luca.
“My son has seen it and it is something he shoots for. He has a visual goal and I think they see it on the team too. Hastings has had a lot of success the last five years, they sent two teams to Williamsport, and the kids see that and they see those kids achieve that and if they have done it, why can’t we do it.”
Robertson and the team from Dunbar wouldn’t be where they are today without support from parents and volunteers, a vital aspect of making a successful Little League team.
“It requires a lot of effort [on the parents’ part],” he said. “We only found out that we were playing up here a couple of days ago and to get everyone together? The parents are huge.”
Buljevic agreed with Robertson and says there is no way the team would be where they are without parental support.
“Baseball is a daily grind,” he said. “Practice, practice, practice. It’s also a financial commitment coming out here and for most families its going to cost a couple thousand dollars. They really show support for their kids. Parent support also builds the kids’ confidence. Without their support we aren’t going to be successful.”
The tournament runs throughout the week with winning teams from six districts competing for the top title in the province. The final game starting at noon on Saturday at Andy Bilesky Park.
Photos: Visiting teams line up around the diamond for the opening ceremonies of the B.C. Little League Provincial Tournament last Saturday in Trail. Top left, Claire Dewitt, Lea Maniago and Doreen Boisvert sell souvenirs after the ceremony. Former Trail Little Leaguer, Morley Levick throws the ceremonial first pitch of the tournament. Bottom, parents and spectators set up their chairs to watch some baseball. The Trail Pipe Band showed their support and piped the participating teams into the baseball diamond at the beginning of the festivites.