Alberta Amateur Baseball Council is recognizing those individuals who have contributed significantly to Alberta baseball, at the grassroots level. This week’s nominee, regarding “Passion for Baseball’, is Bob Miller of the Vauxhall and Taber Minor Baseball Programs. Bob has also been instrumental regarding the development of Jets Stadium, in Vauxhall.
Bob’s inspiration for baseball came as young kid playing a fielding game called “500”. Bob loved chasing baseballs, and the game was a good fit. Because of the gaps in the Vauxhall Minor Baseball Program, and a shortage of kids his age, Bob would play one year and then the next year there would be no team for him. This reality, he faced as a boy, created a determination to make baseball a better sport for the Vauxhall area youths that followed him. Bob also cites Bing Miller, no relation, as an individual who impacted Bob in a positive way. Bing would often do the maintenance on Jets Stadium in a volunteer capacity. Bing’s influence upon Bob, helped create a mindset that if things needed to be done on the field, then roll-up your sleeves and get involved.
Bob is proudest, regarding his playing abilities, by being a contributing member of a senior men’s baseball team at the age of 15. (He was especially proud of showing off his arm strength from 3rd base to 1st base) Bob also takes a great sense of pride regarding his involvement in the inception of the Southern Alberta Junior Baseball League. He, along with Russ Parker, who later became the owner/gm of the Calgary Cannons, were the driving forces behind the league. Bob also takes great deal of satisfaction in the renovation/revival of Jets Stadium. Jets Stadium had become a disaster, and major work was needed to revive the baseball park. Bob kept finding ways, and funds, to keep improving the field even after he moved to Taber. Eventually, through Bob’s hard work and generosity, Jets Stadium was able to obtain LIGHTS. Not only did Jets Stadium have one of the best playing surfaces in Alberta, it also had a field that games could be played on after dark!
Bob was also the driving force behind the development of Ken McDonald Sports Park in Taber. He was able to get the baseball, football, and soccer people to come together, and develop one of the finest parks in all of Alberta. Bob also takes great pride in his role of a coach, for his two children, Brendan and Kendra. Bob and Brendan were members of the Taber Jets Club that won a Western Canada Championship. And with Kendra, he coached alongside Chris James when she was a member of Team Alberta. Kendra played on Team Alberta four years and was co-MVP her final year.
Bob also takes great joy in the friendships he has made through his participation in baseball. He likes the fact that you play hard, but, for the most part, the competition stays on the diamond. When you meet up with people years after competing against them, in baseball, it is easy to strike up a conversation; he feels it is almost like some sort of reunion of past baseball experiences. Many other sports do not allow or contain that same type of camaraderie that baseball does.
In the future, Bob would like to see more parents “step it up” and get involved regarding their kids and baseball. Play catch with your kids or pitch to them; they will play if you are there and involved in their activity. Parents must drive the bus; volunteer your time to coach, fix the baseball fields, organize the team/league, or any other capacity that makes the local minor baseball team/program a success.
Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, and the Alberta baseball community, would like to thank Bob for his volunteerism and generosity towards Alberta youth baseball.
Oikawa, Ianetti latest AABC weekly Honorees
Alberta Amateur Baseball Council is recognizing those individuals who have contributed to significantly to Alberta baseball, at the youth level.
Nominees for the past two weeks, regarding “Passion for Baseball”, are Scott Oikawa, of the Lethbridge American Legion program and Dutche Iannetti of the Fort McMurray Minor Baseball program.
Oikawa played in the Picture Butte and Lethbridge Little League programs, and later competed in the Lethbridge Legion program. Once his playing days were done, he became a coach in the Lethbridge American Legion program.
Scott’s interest in baseball started by coming from a baseball family. His parents, Mary and Tricky, were avid supporters of youth baseball in the Lethbridge and Picture Butte area (the Lethbridge Elks hold an annual tournament named after Mary in appreciation of her volunteerism). Mary and Tricky impressed upon Scott the need to give back to the game after enjoying it for several years. Regarding his mentors, he gained some knowledge and perspectives from each one of the coaches he had as a youth baseball player in the Lethbridge area. Scott would like extend his gratitude towards his co-coaches Jim Kotkas and Chad Layton; he feels they are both good teachers and have great baseball minds. Today, he is inspired by getting a chance to work young people as a baseball coach.
Scott is proudest when he sees his past players, and realizes how much they have grown as individuals. He is extremely pleased to see them contribute to the Lethbridge Elks or Miners’ programs, but even more satisfied to see them become good citizens and positive contributors to society.
He is also proud of coaching one of the top Alberta U18 programs called the Lethbridge Elks. Scott is honoured that the Lethbridge Elks are a program that is well-known in Alberta, but also throughout Montana and the Pacific Northwest.
Regarding the future of Alberta youth baseball, Scott would like to see the sport continue to grow in numbers, and steady improvement regarding player skill sets. He also appreciates it when coaches emphasize teamwork and good citizenship, when fulfilling their duties as a youth baseball instructor.
Scott also hopes that coaches remember, their best coaching jobs may not be reflected in the win/loss ratio; it is shown by your approach when working with players, and how you help them to grow as players and people.
Ianetti has served on the Fort McMurray executive, and coached several Fort McMurray teams. As well, he has rolled up his sleeves and been part of facility maintenance groups.
Dutche interest in baseball stems from being a participant in many Cape Breton Little League teams, growing up in Nova Scotia. He really liked the game, and cites his youth coaches, Monte Bradley and Billy Foster, as being positive influences regarding his love of the sport. In Fort McMurray, his children, Joey, Josh, and Felicia, motivated him to get involved in Fort McMurray Minor Baseball. The entire family enjoyed the travel and competition that youth baseball provided. As an adult, he would like to acknowledge Jerry McPherson as person who convinced him to get more involved in youth baseball; he is happy for Jerry’s encouragement.
Dutche is proud of all the new relationships that evolved from his association with youth baseball. He has made great friends in his community, but also throughout the province. Baseball has enhanced his social network. Dutche also is very satisfied that he has the capacity to give back to his community, through his volunteerism regarding youth baseball.
In the future, Dutche would like all baseball associations to “get on the same page” when it comes youth players. The emphasis should be on what is best for the kids, not individual associations. Check egos at the door, and step it up for deserving kids, not your geographical location. As well, coaches need to try and move kids forward, no matter what their starting level of skills are. .
The Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, and the Alberta baseball community would like to thank both Scott and Dutche for their dedication and efforts towards Alberta youth baseball.
Baseball Alberta Seeks New Program Coordinator
The Baseball Alberta Programs Coordinator role is a comprehensive, multi-faceted role with broad responsibilities for baseball program administration and delivery in Alberta. Reporting to the Executive Director with ultimate accountability to the Board of Directors of Baseball Alberta, this role will be based out of the Baseball Alberta Edmonton office working as part of a team of employees focused on serving the member Associations of the province in developing, administering, and growing the sport of baseball in Alberta.
Application deadline is January 31, 2022.
AABC Weekly Passion for Baseball Honors to Garry Thomson
Alberta Amateur Baseball Council is recognizing those individuals who have contributed significantly to Alberta baseball, at the youth level. This week’s nominee, regarding “Passion for Baseball”, is Garry Thomson. Garry has coached and umpired for the Brownfield, Coronation, and Castor minor baseball organizations for decades.
In his youth, Garry was inspired by softball, not baseball. Once Garry moved to Brownfield, the strong minor baseball program motivated him to join their ranks. Garry began a teaching career in the Brownfield area, and once his kids were old enough to start playing, he became more involved directly with the local youth programs. All his boys played baseball in the East Central Alberta area, and today, he has grandkids playing for the same local programs.
Garry cites Coach Carter Stickler, of the Consort area, as a coach who had a very positive impact on him regarding baseball, and sport in general. He also would like to recognize Terry Schneider and Dan Buskas, as great mentors, in his involvement and development as an umpire.
Garry is proudest of his role as being a facilitator/supporter of baseball in East Central Alberta. He takes great satisfaction that his kids, and grandkids, have all had the opportunity to participate in quality local minor baseball programs. Garry is also very pleased with the relationships he has formed with people all over the province as an umpire and coach. He is humbled that he is still asked to umpire, as he was this past summer, even as he gets a little older.
Garry hopes that baseball numbers continue to grow throughout the province. He wants baseball to remain a friendly, fun, and affordable sport for all. He feels baseball helps build relationships throughout Alberta; baseball, he credits, as being a great sport for the fans as well. He wants all baseball enthusiasts to remember, a) baseball is supposed to be fun, b) it is important to show sportsmanship, c) play hard and winning is a bonus at the end of the game.
Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, and the Alberta baseball community would like to thank Garry for his volunteerism and commitment towards Alberta youth baseball
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