Fans and volunteers make slo-pitch tourney a success

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo Joel Demarke throws the opening pitch in his team's game against Dettah Saturday afternoon at the Pine Point Ball Park.

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo
Joel Demarke throws the opening pitch in his team’s game against Dettah Saturday afternoon at the Pine Point Ball Park.

Ann’s Angels from Fort Smith took first place at last weekend’s Coors Slo Pitch Tournament, with Hay River’s Rusty Blades coming in second and the High Level Outlawz rounding out the top three – but the event was a win for everyone involved.

“Everyone looks forward to it all season. It’s great to see so many teams turn out,” said Rachel Daigneault-Durocher, president of the Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League and co-organizer of the tournament. “The volunteers can’t be thanked enough. Without them, none of this could have happened.”

The original roster for the weekend included 16 teams, but one had to drop out at the last minute, making for the same number of participating teams as last year. Daigneault-Durocher said having umpires come in from Edmonton for the second time was a helpful.

“It takes a lot of work, this event,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how much behind-the-scenes work is involved.”

The seemingly simple task of scheduling games can be daunting, when organizers have to take into account out-of-town teams that can’t make the Friday night, local teams with weddings to attend in the afternoon and various other special considerations. But Daigneault-Durocher said in the end, it’s all worth it.

“There are some people who do know what it takes to make this tournament happen, and they thank us all the time,” she said. “That makes it worth it.”

For those coming from out of town, the tournament is a highly-anticipated event. JR Carifelle said he liked seeing a new place as much as he liked the ball itself.

“It’s my first time coming up,” he told The Hub, adding that he admired Great Slave Lake. “The lake is beautiful. It’s a really nice place.”

While Daigneault-Durocher was on the roster for one of the Hay River teams as a backup for the weekend, she said she was most enjoying what little spectating she got to do.

“It’s just great to watch some great ball,” she said, adding that it’s the fans coming out year after year that make the event a success. “It’s great to have teams come to town, but it wouldn’t happen without people coming out to watch.”

-Sarah Ladik