Butlerville softball booming
In between rows of houses, the Butlerville softball field is more than just dirt and grass.
Set away from the road and on the bank of a pond, the field serves as the key recreational conduit for the community.
A simple and modest field, it’s the spark plug for a softball program that is exploding at the moment. One single set of bleachers sits along the left field foul line, allowing for a perfect view of any game that’s going on.
A pair of green benches serves as dugouts for players and coaches and overlooks the worn dirt infield and neatly trimmed grass.
The Butlerville field is one of the busiest in the region and it’s not strange to not find a game of ball being played there any night of the week.
In the past number of years, the field just keeps getting busier.
The Butlerville Minor Softball Association is seeing a record number of kids hitting the field every summer.
This year, they’ve registered over 100 players with one registration period left to go. That’s up from a total of 80 children in 2015.
“It’s wild. Every year, it’s getting bigger and bigger,” said association president Darrell Mercer. “It seems kids are starting to get back into the ball. “It’s great.” For awhile, it seemed like young athletes were moving away from softball and finding other sports to explore in the summer time.
That’s changed now. The snow barely left the field in March before players were grabbing their mitts and hitting the field to play a game in some form or another.
“The kids are getting back into it and there’s interest in the ball and away you go,” said Mercer.
The president commended the Town of Bay Roberts for bringing the field up to snuff, of which the program is reaping the rewards.
Teaching the game
My kids are talking about it and other kids are talking about how much fun they have playing ball, how they gets to go on tournaments … in the summer time. They love it. Darrell Mercer
If players don’t learn the game, they can’t grow in the game. It’s a simple statement, but one that coaches with the Butlerville association take to heart.
To them, coaching softball is more than just showing up and hitting a few fly balls to the players.
“You see a kid doing something wrong, you’ll take them by the hand one-on-one and show them how to play,” said Mercer.
It’s an approach that has resonated with parents and made the program more accessible because of it.
They want to see their kids learning the game and getting the most out of their practice time, noted Mercer.
Word of mouth
Kids talking to kids is one the biggest reasons recreation programs start getting additional numbers.
Those who start in a program begin chatting with their friends about what they’re learning and doing. That friend, in turn, starts telling another friend.
Suddenly, you’ve got eight or 10 new players ready to give softball a go.
“My kids are talking about it and other kids are talking about how much fun they have playing ball, how they gets to go on tournaments … in the summer time,” said Mercer. “They love it.”
Woodland Elementary in New Harbour got a special gift from the Local Service District late last week. The school received a pair of buddy benches crafted by Rod and Chris Higdon. One is intended for the outside, while the other will be stationed inside. Intended to encourage interaction between students, anyone sitting on the bench can look for others to sit and talk with. Shown in the picture are: front (l-r) —Brianna Thorne and Lucas Hollett; back — Chris Higdon, Rod Higdon, Bruce Williams, Annette Higdon, Wanda Lee Bowan and school principal Lorraine Harnum;
The softball field in Butlerville is at the heart of a softball boom in the community.