Base­ball fever

All ages, fee-free league en­cour­ages fair play and fun

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY PA­TRICK MUR­PHY Pa­trick.Mur­phy@ad­ver­tis­ernl.ca

The sum­mer sports pro­gram in Lewis­porte dropped the good old ball game from its list of of­fer­ings this sum­mer. So one Lewis­porte res­i­dent took mat­ters into her own hands.

Sum­mer just isn’t the same without hear­ing the crack of the bat or tast­ing a bit of diamond dust, if you ask Deanna PhillpotBoyde.

When the Lewis­porte res­i­dent found out the town dropped base­ball from its sum­mer sports of­fer­ings, that just didn’t sit right with Phillpot-Boyde. With some help from her hus­band, she de­cided to take the mat­ter into her own hands.

“The kids, as soon as sum­mer comes in, they’re like, ‘when can we play ball?’” she told the Pi­lot. “When that wasn’t an op­tion, we thought it would be cool to get ev­ery­one to­gether and play.”

A group was cre­ated on so­cial me­dia, and some other neigh­bour­hood par­ents were alerted to the po­ten­tial pickup league. The goal was mod­est — get few local kids to­gether and let them have some fun.

“I cre­ated the group,” said Phillpot-Boyde. “Ev­ery­one just started adding other peo­ple whose kids may be in­ter­ested, so it just went vi­ral.”

She said she didn’t ex­pect much to come of the “league.” The group didn’t even ap­proach the town to re­quest for­mal per­mis­sion to use the local diamond. Since it was just kids hav­ing fun on the diamond, she said, there was no need to cre­ate any set struc­ture. There are no fees, no uni­forms and par­ents take turns or­ga­niz­ing teams on game night. The group is all ages, so teams are of mixed gen­der and var­ied age. The goal, Phillpot-Boyde said, is to en­sure teams are not stacked, and ev­ery­one in­volved keeps their fo­cus on fun.

“It was just meant for kids to get out and play ball,” she said. “We live in the area so we knew what fields are be­ing used at cer­tain times.”

The re­sponse has been over- whelm­ing. On av­er­age, 20 chil­dren at­tend games weekly, com­prised mostly of Lewis­porte res­i­dents. Par­ents work to­gether to en­sure the games take place and that play­ers can fo­cus build­ing skills and hav­ing fun.

The game may even break down bar­ri­ers for some local chil­dren. Phillpot-Boyde said keep­ing the fo­cus on en­joy­ment al­lows chil­dren to par­tic­i­pate without judg­ment.

“I made that clear right from the start,” she said. “This is all ages and the first per­son I hear say ‘geez, you think she would have hit the ball,’ I’m go­ing to point my fin­ger and say ‘go.’”

There is no ridicule tol­er­ated on the field. En­cour­age­ment is the key, she said. The games may even serve to break down some other bar­ri­ers faced by at least one Lewis­porte fam­ily.

“They are a fam­ily from Syria,” said Phillpot-Boyde. “You can tell they’re learn­ing, and our older, more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers are be­ing very kind. Like I said, there is no judg­ment.”

PA­TRICK MUR­PHY/THE PI­LOT

Jack Jen­nings cranks one out to cen­tre­field.

PA­TRICK MUR­PHY/THE PI­LOT

Dawn Bun­gay gets ready to catch the ball while Janessa Boyde ap­proaches sec­ond base.

PA­TRICK MUR­PHY/THE PI­LOT

Safe!

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