After nearly a decade, the new ball diamond at the Pine Point Ballpark is now a reality.
“Lots of ideas come and go, but when a community group and users talk about wanting something for 10 years in a row, it’s great to see it finally get done,” said Jason Coakwell, chair of the recreation board and member of the Pine Point Ballpark Expansion Association. “Any time the user groups can put in as much money and in-kind donations as the town, things can get done and get done well.”
Approximately 30 volunteers showed up to lay sod down at the new diamond off Stewart drive. In the end, the truck carrying it was late and they had to be sent home, but the work was completed last Monday by a few volunteers and a crew from the South Mackenzie Correctional Facility. Glenn Smith, president of the association, said none of it would be possible without the continued help from community members, some of whom aren’t even ball-players.
“It really had that feel of a community project,” he said. “It was great to see so many people come out to help.”
Smith hopes the new diamond will not only allow ball leagues in Hay River to host bigger and better tournaments, but also to improve the social aspect of those tournaments. He said getting together with other players and spectators is a big part of slo-pitch leagues especially and that having the facilities to have games right next to each other will help get more people in the same place, having a good time.
He said it also opens up possibilities for hosting bigger events.
“This paves the way for bigger things,” he said, speaking of the plan for Hay River to host the Senior Men’s Territorial Fast-Pitch Championships next summer. “NWT Softball has approached us about hosting a Western Canadian fast-pitch championship — possibly in 2018 — as well, but we’ll know more about that in January.”
Coakwell also said the new diamond has led to some unexpected benefits, like possibly having a little league baseball team.
“One of the things we heard from minor ball was that parents couldn’t sign up more than one kid, because they couldn’t be in two places at once,” he said. “This will make it easier for them to have more kids playing the game and volunteering to coach and stuff themselves, which will make for more younger players to keep the sport going.”