All hands are on deck, as Trail Minor Baseball gets set to step up to the plate and host the B.C. Provincial Little League Championships from July 20-28.
Host committee co-chairs, Shannon Morris-Ballarin and Russ Green, have teamed up with local business and the City of Trail, in a cooperative effort to make the event an unqualified success.
But before the first pitch is thrown, there is a tonne of work to be done at Andy Bilesky Park.
“It’s a park that needs some attention and, you know, we’re on board,” said Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, Trail city councillor and Parks chair. “The tournament is going to be a success like everything else we do. There’s been some volunteer work there and we’re working together to make it happen.”
Andy Bilesky Park will receive over $100,000 in much-needed renovations including a leveled playing field, a new fence, score clock, and dugouts to bring it up to Little League B.C. standards.
“We sat down with Trisha (Davison, director of Trail Parks and Rec) and basically gave her the Cadillac version, the Chevy version and the Lada version of what our vision was of the park,” said Green.
LLBC president Corinne Chow visited Trail in September to inspect the facility and offer recommendations to the Trail host committee on what needed to be improved and replaced to meet LLBC code and regulation.
As a result, volunteers and local businesses have already jumped on board, with Teck donating $20,000 for new dugouts and another $5,000 for the provincial tournament; in addition, Kootenay Savings, Columbia Basin Trust and others have generously pitched in for the cause.
Two weeks ago, over 20 volunteers descended on the park and removed all the fencing.
“It’s a good time to do it, because we had a lot of support and lots of help, and it needed to be done,” said Morris-Ballarin.
The aging fence has kept ball in the park for more than 30 years, so the new one should be good for another 30, said Morris-Ballarin.
Trail Minor Baseball now awaits the city to get the excavators going, but the wet weather has hindered progress.
“Right now we’re kind of in hiatus,” added Green. “We’re waiting for it to dry out and then we’ll start ripping out the poles. We have a meeting later on this week with the city to get a time-line going on what’s going to happen.”
The main park will be out of commission, so the league will schedule baseball games on the auxiliary field and teams will play more away games.
The committee hopes to have the field ready by the end of June.
Once the tournament starts, organizers will face further logistical challenges that require even more volunteers, such as shuttling teams from a lower parking lot and from Haley Park practice fields to Bilesky Park.
“We have to keep track of everything for the actual tournament, we need about four scorekeepers for every game, and volunteers to do the fields all weekend and the concessions,” said Morris-Ballarin.
Still, local organizers are confident that they will overcome all obstacles, even Mother Nature – an attitude that is part and parcel of what makes Trail the City of Champions.
“We know what the concerns are and we are diligently working through them and, as normal, we’ll put on the best tournament they can have,” said Gattafoni Robinson.
The winner of the six-team tournament will advance to the Canadian Little League championship in Edmonton in August, with the winner going to the Worlds in Williamsport, Pa. Trail Little League teams have won 12 provincial titles and are five-time Canadian champions.
The committee welcomes all volunteers and donations from the community to make the event another success.
Trail Little League is also holding a free coaching clinic tonight at the J. L. Crowe Gym from 6-10 p.m. Contact D. J. Ashman for more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.