Minor softball a big hit in Hope

League returns after five-year absence with 135 players

Kayden Araki aims his hit

Hope Minor Softball had a major rebirth this summer — and president Tammy Shields hopes to build on that success for next season, with plans to be discussed at the club’s AGM on Sept. 24.

After being shut down for almost five years, minor softball registration shot up to 135… mirroring numbers for the well-established Hope Minor Soccer Association. Shields said she had been looking for maybe 40 to 60 kids to join in the first year.

And it wasn’t just the kids who responded in numbers: about 20 adults also stepped up to help with coaching.

Since they were starting from scratch, it was decided to start with the Softball BC “Learn to Play” program and see what the response was.

“Softball BC was inspired by our success,” said Shields, “causing them to create a new program in Softball BC for associations that are in their first year.

“Instead of paying over $6,000 in fees to Softball BC for this year, we only had to pay $1,770, giving us the budget to attend to some much-needed equipment purchases and upgrades.”

Shields said that unbeknownst to her, a former Hope resident and his wife had been planning to come and try to restart Hope’s softball program. Once they heard of the efforts of Shields and her husband Seamus, they offered their assistance.

“Gerry Dyson grew up in Hope,” said Shields. “His dad operated Dyson’s Men’s Wear. Gerry and Sue were both former elite level players — Sue as a pitcher — and they were highly-experienced coaches, involved with the Chilliwack and Abbotsford associations.

“Last year, they were thinking about putting their energy into coming to Hope to start something up. When they found out this year that we had started, they offered to come and help and they jumped right in — not only joining the coaching team on Wednesdays, but also coming up another day of the week to offer free coaching clinics to the rest of the coaches.

“They also stayed late every week to work with the kids who are most interested, and they’re keen to stay involved into next year,” added Shields. “They’ve already recruited additional help with some experienced coaches out of Abbotsford and Langley to come up next year to volunteer at coaching clinics in the pre-season.”

It’s dependent on the support of the people who attend the AGM but Shields said, “The hope is to get teams involved in league play next year. We’ll open up the registration for age four to 18 and see where the numbers fall.

“We’ve had some pretty good-level support this year, so our coaches have been well-trained,” she added.

“We’ve even got some coaches who are willing to put in some time with players this fall, using school gyms. There’s practice equipment that is made to not damage a gymnasium.”

The AGM will be held at the Hope Arena at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24.