Nationals volunteers step up to bat

By Jamie Harkins

August 16, 2017 3:31 PM

Members of the U18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships volunteer crew assemble for a group photo on the bleachers. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Lloydminster stepped up to bat for the under-18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships.
More than 200 people volunteered to help put on a spectacular showcase of the Border City and its resident’s hospitality at the national championships, which were held at Legion Ball Park from July 31 to Aug. 6.
These tireless contributors worked morning to night during the opening four days of the tournament in numerous capacities, including scorekeeping, field maintenance and admissions, as well as many other needed duties, before increasing their contribution once the rain began to fall on Friday morning.
“We have parents, association members, past association members who are softball fans and enthusiasts, grandparents and brothers and sisters, so you name it and they’re here,” said Bill Stephens, facilities chair of the U18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships.
“We’re here before the players are to make sure the diamonds are playable, and we’re here to close up and make sure they’re ready for the next day again.”
Stephens said upwards of 20 volunteers worked with the grounds crew per shift depending on the situation, but that number increased dramatically during and after the rainstorms that halted play on Friday and Saturday.
He said that dedication to giving these girls the best diamonds they could was exemplified after the downfall on Saturday afternoon when about 25 people pitched in to help get the fields back in shape, despite only having six members of the grounds crew scheduled to work.
“With all the weather conditions they had this week, and the challenges they had, this grounds crew always kept a smile on their face and worked hard and got these diamonds in premium shape for us to come out here and play,” said Mississauga S.W. Hurricanes coach Wayne Grey-Baker.
“I can’t talk highly enough about what they’ve done and how they’ve maintained this field. It was worth the trip out here from Ontario to come and see the work that they’ve put in.”
Grey-Baker said the base paths got slick and muddy from the rain, but the crew ran out and put tarp on the infield during the downfall before laying more shale and aerating the grounds afterwards to dry them out.
He said the fields were back in great shape once the work was completed.
“We got in our game (Saturday morning) during the rain and they worked hard to make sure we could get our game in at night too,” he said. “We didn’t think it was going to happen, but it did. That’s kudos to the crew that came out here. They worked hard to make sure everything was in premium shape.”
Warren Noble, chair of the Lloydminster U18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships, said a majority of the volunteers at nationals went beyond what they initially signed up for.
He said they did anything that was asked of them from picking up garbage to helping live stream the games.
“Dads from the team stepped up,” said Noble. “They probably didn’t have to, but we just basically got them going and whatever we needed (they did).”
Stephens said the ability to successfully host this tournament started about a year ago when some of their volunteers in conjunction with the City of Lloydminster park’s workers began upgrading the facilities at Legion Ball Park.
He said the City of Lloydminster also made a huge investment toward the preparation and running of nationals in terms of supplying equipment and materials to keep the diamonds in shape through any type of weather, as well as supplying a daytime diamond crew to help with the maintenance of Legion Ball Park through the competition.
“All of our volunteers have been outstanding,” said Stephens.
“They’ve given 110 per cent all week long and it really showed. The teams appreciated it. Our city employees (have gone) way above and beyond the call of duty. Everybody really put out to make sure this was one of the best tournaments Lloydminster has hosted in a long time.”

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