The Trail Minor Baseball League is warming up for an exciting new season in which it will play host to the BC Little League Major Championship at the end of July.
Mother Nature has done her best to thwart the efforts of TMBL, but the league’s intrepid young players hit Pople Park and the Willi Krause Fieldhouse this week for its evaluation camps in preparation for opening season on Apr. 28.
“We had hoped to get started this past week but weather has bumped everything back,” said TMBL’s Jim Maniago.
A month-long deluge has soaked baseball parks and soccer pitches and forced TMBL to reschedule its ‘Come out and play, ball day’ to this past Sunday at Andy Bilesky Park. But again showers frustrated the league’s attempt to introduce new players to the game and welcome experienced ones back.
“This weekend would have been better for it weather wise, but at this point we’re putting teams together and getting set for opening day,” explained Maniago. “We had hoped for Apr. 8, bumped it back to the 15th and we just had nothing but rain!”
Despite the weather, registration has been relatively robust with over 160 players from ages 5-12 signing up for the upcoming season. However, politics has once again affected both registration and TMBL’s operating budget, as the City of Trail continues to charge double for Rossland players as a result of its Trail Resident Program (TRP), while the City of Rossland slashed its TRP subsidy budget from $50,000 to $10,000.
“Registration is pretty good,” said Maniago. “The biggest issue is TRPs. Rossland changed their reimbursement policy mid-stream last year so we ended up getting $4,000 less than we have the past years (and were planning on) so we are short that money and trying to work out how we’ll cover that.”
In the past, the league would pay the TRP fee for Rossland players and get reimbursed from the City of Rossland after a lengthy application process. But with the recent cuts, there are no guarantees that there will be any money left when TMBL applies for the subsidy.
Moreover, the City of Trail, rather than charge a reasonable rate and have young players and teams benefit from the experience, the City stands stubbornly by a policy that has little impact on their bottom line, while the league and its players lose out on and off the field.
“Rossland kids are having to pay double for registration this year so we are losing a bunch of Rossland kids this year,” said Maniago. “Now there’s no guarantees, so we’re left having to charge the Rossland kids the full rate which has made it prohibitive for some to play.”
In any case, the game must go on, and with better weather expected next week, Maniago says Andy Bilesky Park should be ready for play in time for the first pitch next Saturday.
With the Little League provincials on tap, TMBL is also on the lookout for volunteers to help make it as successful as the 2014 minor provincials and the 2012 major provincial tournament hosted by Trail.
The Tournament will see seven districts represented from across BC, including our home team, take to the field for the week-long tournament, scheduled from July 21-29 at Andy Bilesky Park. If interested in volunteering email Mark Morrison at email@example.com.