Tryouts for the under-16 boys softball team sent to represent the NWT at this year’s North American Indigenous Games are coming up in Hay River and organizers are hoping young men turn up in full force.
“I just hope they come out and have fun,” said Floyd Daniels, a coach in Hay River who is contributing his services as a scout for the territorial team. “If they make the team, that’s great, but just coming out is a good experience and a great way to get involved in the sport.”
The tryouts are set to be held at the Pine Point Ball Diamond May 31 starting at 11 a.m.
Softball, particularly slo-pitch, has had a resurgence in Hay River in the last few years, with the league growing from a handful of teams to nearly double last summer. Although the sport has been growing in popularity among adults, Daniels said he hasn’t seen a corresponding growth in younger players yet.
“We took a bantam team to a national games in B.C. in 2008,” he said. “And that’s the same team that went to the under-21s last year.”
Daniels said he hopes getting a few players from Hay River onto the territorial team will help bring in a new group of young men into the game and keep them interested in going up through the ranks.
Kyle Kugler, a director with NWT Softball, said the opportunity for the kids to travel to Regina, Sask. this summer – the games are set for July 22 though 27 – will be a good one for the the kids to play in important games against teams from across the country.
“It’ll be a good chance for them to get some experience under their belts,” he said. “This will be the first crack (for the NWT) at this age group getting into such a big competition, and hopefully it’ll work into a feeder system to getting those players into the older levels in the future.”
Tryouts will be held in Inuvik and Yellowknife as well in the last weeks May, and selected players will head to a training camp in the capital soon after before heading to Saskatchewan.
Daniels has hopes that the experience will “light the fire” for some of them, whether they make the team or not.
“This is a chance for some of them to play ball against the rest of the country and get involved in the game more,” he said, adding the team who went to B.C. in 2008 still mostly play ball together and have remained an integral part of the sport in Hay River. “We just want to get this going.”