Three new teams have joined the Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League this year, including one from Rowe’s Construction, a youth team called the Whynots, and an oldtimers squad.
“It’s good to see so many people coming out and playing ball,” said Rachel Daigneault-Durocher, the league’s new president. “We have a good mix of both younger and older players, and I think everyone is having a lot of fun.”
The total of 11 teams has forced the league to play on an extra day in the week, adding a game on Friday to the regular schedule of Monday and Wednesday evenings. Daigneault-Durocher would like to see the number of players – between 15 and 20 to a team – increase even more to allow for a second game on Fridays, but she said the new executive has already taken some positive steps.
“We got off to a bit of a late start this year,” she said. “And I would like to see more games played next year, but really I just want everyone to have a good time playing ball.”
The rising number of players is also driving plans for twinning the Pine Point Ballpark, which would not only add a field to the two adult-sized ones already existing, but make it easier to schedule games and run tournaments, according to Daigneault-Durocher.
“I would love for the twinning to happen, and soon,” she said. “It’s kind of tight with only two fields.”
The idea of building another ball diamond next to the current Pine Point field has been batted about for about six years, said Glenn Smith, president of the Hay River Men’s Fastpitch Association.
Currently, games and particularly tournaments are split between the Pine Point Ballpark and Don Wright Park.
Beyond seeking to accommodate a growing roster in the short term, Smith hopes another field will help create more players in the future, as well.
“With 11 teams this year, we’re already facing capacity issues,” he said.
But increased demand is not the only reason Smith and Daigneault-Durocher advocate a second diamond at the Pine Point Ball Diamond. They agree it would be far easier to host tournaments in terms of scheduling games as players could move straight from one field to the next if need be, but also in terms of the atmosphere for the spectators.
“I would be nice to have (the diamonds) close for the social aspect, too,” Smith said. “And it would make more sense to have shared concessions as opposed to everything divided up like it is now.”
The users group – more formally known as the Pine Point Ballpark Expansion Association – entered into a contribution agreement with the Town of Hay River in 2012, which expires at the end of 2014. According to Smith, the agreement includes a 50/50 split in cost with the town, for a current total of around $200,000.
“We’re still in the early stages of design and project planning, which includes fundraising,” Smith said. “So that’s a preliminary number, but I think it’s a pretty good deal for the town. We pay half and they get a facility to use, too.”
Apart from the usefulness of the new diamond, he said part of the plan is to incorporate elements of beautification, as well.
“At the current site, we have the river that runs right next to where we want the field to be,” he said. “I think we could have the best looking diamond in the Northwest Territories.”
While there is still planning to be done, both Smith and Daigneault-Durocher hope work can begin on the additional field this summer.
— Sarah Ladik