This year’s slo-pitch season is shaping up to be bigger and better, with new teams and a new executive, the league’s outgoing president said last week.
Angela Haley-Carter said 10 teams have expressed interest in playing in the Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League this year, up one from last year’s nine teams.
“Every year it’s been getting better and better,” Haley-Carter said. “We’ve been growing this league over 10 years. The fact that the community is more and more interested in it and the people are coming of age and being interested in baseball just shows again that it’s one of the biggest sports in Hay River for adults.”
The league is set to kick off the new season June 2, “weather-depending,” Haley-Carter said, explaining that the Concept Bandits will be back to defend the title they won last year.
“People want to play,” she said.
During the league’s kickoff meeting on May 10, Haley-Carter said the league will play its games at Pinepoint Park and Don Wright ballpark in New Town. Camsell Park will not be used for league games this season.
Improvements to the Don Wright ballpark began last year and will continue this spring. The town promised to shore up the infield during a meeting with the baseball users, Haley-Carter said.
“Hopefully the town does fulfill their end of the bargain,” she said.
The Bandits’ Ashley McKay was elected as the new president during the May 10 general meeting. The vice-president position was left vacant. Haley-Carter will sit as past-president and secretary, while former vice-president Glenn Smith will sit as treasurer.
“This is kind of step one of getting new blood into the league,” she said. “(We’ve) been doing it for a long time so it’s time for some new people to get in there.”
As past-president, Haley-Carter said she will be available to assist the new executive for as long as they need. Wants to see the league’s growth continue with its current momentum. League needs good representation to make that a reality, Haley-Carter said.
“I think Ashley, as soon as she gets the hang of everything, will be good at it,” she said. “For one, she was willing – that’s a big step in the right direction. On top of it, she’s ready to learn.”
This year’s edition of the annual Coor’s Slo-pitch Tournament could be in doubt unless a new organizer steps forward. The tournament, which historically takes place during the August long weekend, is one of the largest in the Northwest Territories and typically features teams from communities in the NWT and northern Alberta. Haley-Carter and Smith, who have been been handling the tournament for the past nine years, will be unavailable to help organize this year’s event due to prior engagements. Haley-Carter said a new organizer or organizers will have to be in place soon to ensure the tournament is planned properly.
“It’s not something you can throw together overnight and have a good tournament,” she said. “We’re hoping that a volunteer in the community, or a few volunteers, step up to make a committee and have a tournament organizer.”
New teams, including a Legion team and the Junior Bullets, will ensure this season is fun.
Haley-Carter called the Bullets, “the dynasty” of baseball in Hay River. The original team featured players like John Marshall, Gary Bolt, Gord Bolt, Marilyn Marshall and Rick Nault.
“I think it’s great that all their kids are now putting this team together,” she said. “That’s amazing.”
The Legion’s team will also breathe some new life into the league, Carter added.
“New faces and new interest, which is amazing,” she said. “It’s just so nice to see the interest grow.”
If you missed the meeting and would still like to enter a team, or find one to play on, contact Haley-Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 874-3044.
“Both parks have issues,” she said. “The one thing I really do like about Camsell is that the outfield is good.”
The infield, which features dirt and clay, is solid, whereas a lot of work needs to be done at Don Wright.
Wants to see the league’s growth continue with its current momentum. League needs good representation to make that a reality, Haley-Carter said.
“We have an amazing turnout and it’s the biggest tournament of the summer,” she said. “You don’t want someone to just come in and wing it either and then teams say, ‘We’re never coming back.’”
“It is a big summer event and it brings a lot of people into Hay River. You hope that someone steps up and does take that over.”
Haley-Carter said that the need for a new organizer has been raised for a number of years.
“If she doesn’t have the backup and she doesn’t have the support, us as an executive are going to have to say no tournament,” she said. “It’s way too much for one person.”
“It’s not just show up and play ball,” she said. “There’s so many other things.”
“The sad thing in this town is that it’s the same people who volunteer for everything,” she said. “Those people are done. They’ve put in their time, they’ve put in their effort, and nobody else wants to.”
“It’s got to come together soon, because it’s a lot of work.”
“I love the league and it’s a piece of me. For me to walk away, it’s disheartening.”
“For me, it’s time to move on and start a family. With that comes other responsibilities, other executives and other sports.”