A surge in softball
Bay Roberts fields alive with activity this summer
Softball in the Town of Bay Roberts is experiencing a surge in popularity, the likes of which hasn’t been witnessed in recent memory.
There’s such a demand for mens’, ladies’ and minor ball that the town’s director of recreation wouldn’t be surprised if a new facility is required sometime in the future.
“ This is the first year we’ve felt demand of this magnitude,” says Ian Flynn, who’s been with the town in various capacities for more than a decade.
The mens’ 19-and-over league started with four teams in 2006. It’s now grown to seven teams, and there’s action three nights-a-week.
The ladies’ league, in just its second season, has grown to five teams with 75 players having registered. Ten others are on a waiting list.
“There’s an extreme amount of interest,” says Danita Crosbie. Crosbie andMelanie Akerman are running the league.
Both the mens’ and ladies’ league play at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex. Field availability is the only factor preventing league expansion, Crosbie explains.
Minor softball has also experienced what Flynn describes as an “explosion in numbers,” with some 300 young athletes between the ageas of five and 16 taking part.
The minor program is co-ordinated by Sandra Parsons, and action takes place primarily on the Community Gardens field
No fees are charged the minor program, so registration fees are channelled into the association.
“It’s good to see the facilities being used,” Flynn says. He highlights “the push of the volunteers that get these programs going.”
Mens’ teams play 24 regular season games, plus playoffs. The town also hosts three area tournaments, as well as a qualifying tournament for teams heading to the provincials.
The annual summer Klondyke Days features a super sports weekend, highlighting between 12 and 14 teams from across the province.
A “ fall brawl” is the final tournament of the year, Flynn explains.
“It just goes to show the respect and popularity softball has, and the (reputation) the Town of Bay Roberts has developed over the last six years in terms of hosting these tournaments,” Flynn says.
He attributes the renewed interest in ball to nothing more profound than “people looking for something to do, at an affordable cost.”
He notes that $100 or so gets a player through the entire summer, whereas “ you’re looking at $100 just to go for a round of golf at certain places.”
Nor can the role of camaraderie be discounted. “It’s a couple of nights out; a social thing,” he says.
Both the mens’ and ladies’ league play at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.
Crosbie says the advantage of being able to play under the field lights is another factor in the sport’s growth. And, she adds, “there’s an extremely high calibre of ball that’s being played there.”
Akerman maintains a Facebook page devoted to the ladies’ league.
Crosbie and Akerman expect to continue running the ladies’ league “ because we haven’t had as much as one complaint,” Crosbie says.
Rental fees from the adult leagues are “put back into the field,” Flynn notes.
The recreation director envisions an expansion to the recreation complex, or the erection of a new facility, because of the requirements for hosting provincial tournaments. A minimum field length of 275 feet is required, whereas the present field is 235 feet.
He notes, though, that any such thinking is “in the very early stages right now.”
Casey Tetford (right) and her brother Caden of Shearstown are among the roughly 300 young people taking part in the minor softball program in Bay Roberts this year. They were at the field with their parents, Claude and Jennifer, on June 1 to take in some practice. It was also Casey’s fifth birthday.