Minor baseball is back in Prince Rupert for kids aged four to nine and registration has already begun.
President of the new North Coast Minor Baseball Association (NCMBA), Emily Kawaguchi, explained why she’s hoping it will be a success, much like the days of old.
“Baseball is a sport that has a minimal equipment requirement, minimal cost requirement, and minimal base skill level to be involved. But more than anything, we know a lot of kids that want to play it,” she said.
“We have a great group of volunteers that have stepped up to get us up and running again. We wanted to make sure we started with a manageable program, so we focused on younger age groups, specifically the four to nine age group – pre-kindergarten to Grade 4.”
The new league is set to take place in the months of May and June to avoid conflicting with soccer programming .
“We’re hoping that we can grow the league in the future as the core group ages. I should note there is another volunteer group in town starting up a slow-pitch/softball league for ages above that, which is another awesome option,” said Kawaguchi.
As part of that “grow the roots” strategy, the four to five age group will begin with a baseball variation called “blastball”. Blastball is a simplified “orientation” version of baseball, designed to reduce time standing around and increasing movement. The game is played with special soft bats and balls to avoid risk of injury and to minimize equipment needs. Teams are kept small in number to allow supervision, reduce waiting times and to increase repetitions of the fun stuff, like hitting, throwing and catching. From there, the league transitions kids into tee-ball, and then into a full “pitching and catching” baseball game.
With regards to where the games will be played, McKeown Park in Port Edward is a level, well drained surface, often known as being under-utilized. The Association think it’s the perfect site for a little league baseball diamond. The District of Port Edward is going to work with the organization to ensure they have a home park that meets their needs. The hope is that over time, the minor baseball league gets established, and with this facility it can hold a lot of potential for further development. Registration is ongoing.
“We’re still collecting names, but we’re confident we’ll be able to pull together enough volunteers for coaching and any other requirements. We have lots of people putting their hands up, and we’re confident we’ll get even more,” siad the president.
The NCMBA has a website (NorthCoastBall.ca) that answers most of the questions that parents will have, and facilitates online registration (including online payment). They have had over 40 kids registered in the first three days. To contact representatives of the organization you can email them at NorthCoastBall@gmail.com
A schedule hasn’t been released yet, but two games per week seems likely, Kawaguchi mentioned.
“League start-up includes a lot of one-time costs, and we are already seeing Rupert and Port Edward’s corporate community ‘step up to the plate’. Without these corporate sponsors, we would not be able to offer minor baseball at an affordable level,” she said.