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B.C. community stands together to save baseball season



Butler Park in Trail, BC

If baseball isn’t the heart of Trail, it is, at the very least, a vital organ. A raging windstorm knocked the immediate and near future of Trail’s youth game into critical condition, but fears have subsided thanks to the cooperative efforts of community members and city officials.

In Trail – tucked in a scenic mountain valley in southeastern British Columbia near the Canada-U.S. border – venerable Butler Park is the home of baseball at the teen and men’s levels. The facility was built in 1902 on land donated by Sydney Butler, who later became mayor of the community. Butler Park has been a gathering place ever since it opened and has hosted countless high-profile events, including the 1995 Babe Ruth World Series, which drew crowds of 6,000 fans for games that involved the home team. To put that attendance figure in perspective, Trail’s population at the time wasn’t much more than 7,000.

Earlier this year, for about half an hour on the morning of Jan. 13, a violent wind ripped through Trail and left one big mess in its path. The storm toppled trees all over town, including at Butler Park. Before Trail Youth Baseball president Jim Maniago had even left home to go to work that day, he was alerted to damage at Butler.

“My phone starts lighting up, people saying ‘Butler’s a disaster, trees are down,’” Maniago said. “I was like, ‘Well, it can’t be that bad,’ and then I drove by and it really was. Three massive trees came down, and one of them was right by one of the light poles, which also had netting attached to it. The weight of the tree, plus the netting onto the light pole, pulled one of the poles down.”

One week earlier, Trail Youth Baseball received an email from city hall, saying that an engineer had examined the light poles at the park and had found some serious issues. The eight poles – each one 70 feet high, made of concrete and rebar, hollow in the middle and uncapped at the top – were failing. They had been in place since the early 1980s and had been exposed to the elements long enough that they were wearing down from the inside out. Bottom line, they had to be removed as quickly as possible.

At that point, Maniago and Trail Youth Baseball expressed their concerns to city officials about the takedown of the light poles and how that could negatively impact the 2021 season for Trail’s 13- to 18-year-old players. Not being able to practice or play games into the evening hours would present challenges so a request was made that the poles be left in place until the fall, when the season was over.

The windstorm and the damage it caused made that plea irrelevant and threw the 2021 season even more into jeopardy.

“There was the discussion that the cost of everything was going to be too much and there was discussion about shutting the park down,” said Maniago, adding that a closure would have affected close to 100 players in the 13- to 18-year-old age category. “So we really had to lobby and promote our program and show how needed it was. Realistically, with last year being (lost to) COVID-19, if the park got shut down, which basically meant we wouldn’t have been able to play this year, you take two years off of a program and it’s pretty hard to get it rolling again. And this is aside from the fact that these kids need somewhere to play. Our 16- to 18-year-old group is a pretty strong group – there are six to eight kids looking at going to college in the next two years and they need a place to play.”

Trail, incidentally, is known for producing elite-level ball players. The most notable graduate of Trail Youth Baseball is Jason Bay, who played for the host team at the 1995 Babe Ruth World Series and later achieved MLB stardom with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox. Bay, the National League Rookie of the Year with the Pirates in 2004 and a three-time all-star, also played for the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners. As well, he was a three-time Tip O’Neill Award-winner as Canada’s best baseball player and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.

With the overall health of Trail Youth Baseball and the good of its current teenaged players front-of-mind, Maniago and others stayed in steady contact with city councillors and staff members in the aftermath of the storm.

“A few of us spent the better part of the next three weeks, basically selling the importance of the field,” Maniago said. “To the credit of the councillors, they were really supportive. I think a lot of them in some shape or form have been involved with sports in town and recognize, for a small town to produce the athletes that we have and the successful teams that we’ve had, (sport) is part of the fabric of the city. I always joke that people don’t live in Trail for the shopping – it’s the recreation that we can offer that’s the draw here, the lifestyle.”

Much to the relief of Trail Youth Baseball, the decision was made to keep Butler Park open and allow the season to proceed in whatever form COVID-19 measures will allow. Without lights, on-field activities will be limited to daytime hours.

No light poles (removal began the week of Feb. 8) also means no safety netting. But whenever the park is hosting a practice or game, signs will be posted in the surrounding neighbourhood, warning people in the area to keep their eyes open for baseballs exiting the playing area. During practices, teams will use a batting tunnel as an additional safety measure.

“We’ve got some pretty good people on our executive who did some research on how many foul balls leave parks and what areas of the park they leave and things like that,” Maniago said. “Obviously without the nets, more balls are going to leave the park but it’s not quite as bad as you might think.”

Due to issues around COVID-19 the Trail Orioles men’s program will remain idle for 2021 so the team’s absence from Butler Park will make for a more sustainable situation when it comes to usage of the facility.

“The compromise is to live through this year and, if all goes well, then in the fall, netting and lights should go up and we’ll be good to go for next year,” Maniago said.

Trail city council decided at a March 8 meeting to spend roughly $35,000 to have a class A estimate done on the cost of netting and lights.

“They can’t vote to go ahead with the project until they have the final estimate but I gather that they’ve done their homework and as long as nothing goes crazy-sideways that, come September, they’re going to start work on getting the new poles and lights and nets up.”

Maniago anticipates that the cost will be shared between the city and Trail Youth Baseball. Each party, he said, will try to secure grant money to help lessen the financial burden.

“It was a pretty concerning couple of weeks,” Maniago said, looking back on the series of events. “But, in the end, we’re really happy with how it’s gone.

“We’re happy that the kids are going to get to play this year and we’ll move forward from here. I think anytime you do renovations it ends up being an upgrade so this time next year I think we’ll be looking at the field, going, ‘Wow, this is great.’”

Metal poles and much brighter, more energy-efficient LED lights are now the standard at community baseball parks. Safety netting has also improved greatly in the past few decades.

“The netting will be better quality if you’re looking through to watch a game,” Maniago said. “This stuff, apparently you almost don’t even see it.”

The soon-to-be-improved Butler Park will eventually have Bay’s name attached to it. Trail city council has already approved in principle a project that will see the venue rechristened as Jason Bay Field at Butler Park. The initiative – which will require the installation of new signage – is currently on hold due to COVID-19.

Jason Peters is a freelance writer and editor based in Prince George, British Columbia. Visit his website at


BC Minor Baseball

10 Ways You’re Causing Your Child Sport-Induced Stress



Participating in a sport is supposed to be fun. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association estimates that 9 percent of all children use sports to help manage stress. For those children, sports can be fun, but for many children, sports can be extremely stressful.

Children taking part in competitive sports often feel stressed, but the cause of that stress may be surprising to some parents. Often, it isn’t the coaches or your children’s teammates that are causing the stress; it could be you — and you may not even know you’re doing it! Are you guilty of any of these stress-inducing behaviors? Avoid stressing your child out during sports activities by remembering these stressful behaviors parents engage in during games, practices or even around the house.

1. Talking About Your Own Great Sports Accomplishments

Sharing your own sports accomplishments may be inspiring to your child, but if you keep bringing them up, it could become stressful. Many children experience sport-induced stress from hearing stories about how great their parents were at a sport because they feel they have to accomplish the same things their parents did.

2. Comparing Your Child to Other Team Members/Children

Children have their own unique talents and abilities when it comes to a certain sport. Comparing them to other children or other teammates could produce feelings of anxiety and stress, especially when they are unable to perform the same skills or at the same level as the other child.

3. Turning into a Bleacher Coach

You may think coaching from the sidelines is offering your child extra support or help, but it really is just confusing them. Children will feel extreme levels of stress with “bleacher” coaching from parents because they do not know to whom to listen for advice. Should they do what the coach is telling them, or should they listen to their parent?


american footbal referee gestures silhouettes

4. Making Sports the Center of Your (and Your Child’s) World

Yes, there are a lot of things that can come from engaging in sports. Scholarships, wonderful opportunities to travel and even jobs, but there is no reason it should become the center of your world or your child’s. What if they want to try a different sport or they get injured? Sports may not always be there, and if it’s all you talk about, your child will feel obligated to stay in sports long after they no longer want to play.

5. Arguing with the Coach Over Sports Decisions

If all parents had their way, their children would play in every game the entire time. But that decision rests with the coaches, not the parents — and for good reason. Don’t spend the time arguing with the coaching staff about how often your child is playing. It is embarrassing and stressful for your child!

6. Living Vicariously Through Your Child

It’s natural to want what is best for your child, but when it comes to sports, you have to follow your child’s lead and let them pick the sports they want to take part in. Introduce your children to a sport you played when you were younger, but don’t force them to play just because you loved it and want to relive the good old days.

7. Making Every Game Seem Like Life or Death

No parent likes to see their child lose, and you don’t want to encourage a child to have a “who cares?” attitude, but it is important to make sure winning isn’t everything. When winning is everything, a child will feel tremendous pressure to impress all the time.

8. Forcing Extra Practice Sessions

Children need practice to succeed at sports, but scheduling several extra practice sessions a week can be overwhelming to youngsters and stressful/harmful on the body. Feel free to encourage your children to practice, but don’t force them to practice for hours in addition to their regular practice sessions.


Kid Sleeping.web

9. Overbooking Your Child’s Schedule

It is tempting to want to sign up a child for every sport they show a remote interest in, but many sports seasons overlap. The overlapping season leads to an overbooked schedule for your child, which leaves them tired, cranky and experiencing sports-induced stress. Pick one or two sports to focus on. It will be enough to keep you and your child busy.

10. Missing Important Family Events for Minor Sports Events

Scheduling conflicts between your child’s sports team and family events are inevitable. If the family event is important to you or other family members, skipping it could cause your child to feel an overwhelming amount of stress or guilt. After all, you’d be missing something important because of their interest in a sport.


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BC Minor Baseball

Communicate Instantly and Get Real-Time Game Updates with TeamSnap Live!



We’re thrilled today to take the wraps off an exciting new feature that will change the way you interact with TeamSnap. TeamSnap Live! not only gives you the opportunity to instantly send updates and messages to your team through the Locker Room, this in-app feature also allows coaches, parents and fans to share the live game experience.

TeamSnap Live! brings the whole team together by making it easier for coaches, managers, parents and fans to keep up with the action, on the sidelines or miles from the game.

Some of you may have tried TeamSnap Live! through our testing period this fall, but it’s now available to all TeamSnap users. This new feature brings score updates, sideline banter, play-by-plays, instant communication and more to your mobile device.

It lets you experience the real-time action of the game no matter where you are:

  • Missing the travel soccer tournament because someone had to stay home.
  • In a meeting but wishing you were at your daughter’s hockey game.
  • Out of town but want to know how your grandson is doing in his basketball game.
  • Awaiting trial at sea in the ship’s brig but wondering how the baseball game went.

ios-feedTo begin using TeamSnap Live!, simply follow these steps:

  1. Important! Make sure you have the latest version of TeamSnap on your phone (that’s 3.0.3 on Apple and 3.0.4 on Android) and that in your phone’s settings, notifications are enabled for TeamSnap. The Live Update feature will not work without notifications. (If you’re not sure how to manage updates on your phone, check out these handy instructions forApple and Android. Not sure how to enable notifications? Here are instructions for Apple and Android.)
  2. Sign in to your team’s dashboard and click on the “Live!” menu item.
  3. Start chatting and entering scores!

We know you’ll find TeamSnap Live! as fun as we do, and as always, we’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions We’re also looking for stories of how customers are using TeamSnap Live! If you have a story to share with us, we just might have some free service for you!


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BC Minor Baseball

Coaching With a Purpose: Mixing Mental Lessons With Physical Ones



In just the last two decades, coaches are finally realizing the tremendous impact they can have on their win/loss record and the respect of their athletes by coaching the mental game.

There are still plenty of old-school coaches out there who ignore the reasons why such brilliant coaches as Phil Jackson, Bill Walsh and Tommy Lasorda were so successful. These coaches—and every other wildly successful coach—understand human psychology and how to get the most out of their human athletes.

The problem with old-school coaches is that in the back of their minds, they know they have an unlimited source of athletes ready to take the place the place of any athlete that just doesn’t fit with “my way of doing things.” The old-school coach may even have some success at some point and think, “That’s what I should repeat for more success.” And then the coach gets a whole new set of players who don’t respond to his rigid methods.

Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.
—Phil Jackson, Basketball’s “Zen Master”

What I recommend to coaches is to have a simple structure or framework for mental lessons that can easily be taught and referenced when working on physical skills and in competition. Make up your own or feel free to use mine:

Mental Toughness is: focused, confident, determined and resilient, especially under pressure.

Start your season by introducing your mental game structure just like you do for your physical training. Have a mental game meeting and just talk about Mental Toughness to get buy in and a basic understanding. Then, in a practice when you see mental weakness, you can highlight it and give the player a thought or technique to work on it. Because you introduced your mental training at the beginning of the season, touching back on that philosophy throughout the season will come as no surprise.

For example, a coach watches a player in practice get too angry after making a mistake. The coach could say:

“Mary, what if you got that angry/frustrated in the beginning of the game after making a mistake? Would you be able to play your best for the rest of the game? Which of the mental principles we talked about do you need to practice right now?”

If Mary can’t remember, simply remind her and give her a mental technique just like you would a physical technique. This is what practice is for: catching our mistakes and working to improve our skills, physical and mental.

I’ve observed that if individuals who prevail in a highly competitive environment have any one thing in common besides success, it is failure—and their ability to overcome it.
—Bill Walsh, West Coast Offense coaching legend

Old-school coaches give short shrift to the mental game and therefore set themselves up to all sorts of problems with their players that only show up in competition because they have not been practiced in advance.

The quote from Bill Walsh above is such common sense that it needs no explanation, yet old-school coaches just figure athletes need to do this on their own, and if they don’t, well there’s another person waiting to take their place.

These coaches are throwing away amazing talent every season.

Managing is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.
—Tommy Lasorda, “Baseball’s Goodwill Ambassador”

If you, as a coach, are not incorporating some kind of mental game training and lessons in your program you are simply handicapping yourself—there’s no way around it. Your competition knows the value of teaching players how to shape their mind and master their emotions to be in alignment with winning. In the past generations, there were no sports psychologists or mental game experts and so coaches who figured all of this out on their own, like Vince Lombardi, had a huge edge over everyone else. Today, it’s a necessity.


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