Alberta Amateur Baseball Council is honouring those individuals who have contributed significantly to Baseball in Alberta, at the youth level. This week’s nominee, regarding “Passion for Baseball” is Darren Cockx. Darren, along with Jason Tanton, Sonny Warrack, and Rick Zarowny are the driving forces behind the development of the Cheadle Ray Fair Field Baseball Park, in Strathmore, AB, which was built in 2017 to serve youth baseball players in the region.
The inspiration for the ballpark came from the need for baseball parks for Strathmore youth. Players from Strathmore were having to travel as far away as Carseland for a team practice. With this reality for the Strathmore baseball youth, and the combination of the 100th Anniversary of the Strathmore Lions Club and the 125th birthday of Canada, Darren, Jason, Sonny, and Rick spearheaded the development of a youth baseball park.
The obstacles to such a development were many. First, the field cost development was roughly $500,000. But through the donations of many, and the generosity of Gray’s Excavating Inc., the financial requirements were met. As well, the donated labour of many, helped bring the fields initiative to a reality. Land was also an issue. However, the County of Wheatland allowed for some variance in road allowances, and with the construction of a 13 foot right field wall, the park is viable for U18 and U15 baseball.
In the future, Darren hopes more communities will take a view of this park and try to construct something similar for the kids of their community. One of the keys to having more kids play, is having good facilities.
Bentein “Crushing” it in Chestermere
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 Corey Bentein of the Chestermere Crushers Little League/Baseball Alberta program.
Corey has coached Crushers teams and worked/helped organize the Chestermere winter camps for many years. As well, he has assisted many other Chestermere Crushers’ mentors regarding their coaching duties and responsibilities.
Corey feels his passion for baseball, initially, comes from his dad. His Dad played in the Detroit Tigers organization, and was great teacher/mentor to Corey, and the rest of the kids from Corey’s hometown. Corey would also like to acknowledge Randy Mair, who also signed with the Tigers, as being a great youth baseball coach in Corey’s local area as well. He credits the personal skills of both Randy, and his dad, as contributing to his love of baseball. One of Corey’s inspirations as a coach came from his first All-Star coach, Larry Lecour, who he admired because of his outstanding game strategies. Two Ontario provincial team championships also helped increase his passion for the sport.
Corey treasurers the friendships he made as a youth player; he still stays in contact with many of his former teammates. Today, he feels lucky to work with a great group of people who comprise the Chestermere Minor Baseball Association. Corey states, “he fell in love with baseball at 11 or 12” and has never strayed too far from the sport.
Corey has pride in his playing days, and today, his role as a youth coach. As a player, he is fondest of being part of two local teams that went on to become provincial championship teams. As a coach, he is extremely proud of the growth regarding athletic skills by Chestermere players, including his daughter Hailey. In his second year as a coach, he led a Chestermere team that never lost a game during their Little League season. As well, he is extremely satisfied with the growth in the number of Chestermere youth baseball participants. He is also glad to see the development of a Chestermere Fall baseball program this past year. Also, he is delighted with the continued growth and enthusiasm regarding the Chestermere winter baseball camps. Joy abounds, for Corey, when one of his past Chestermere players does well beyond the Crushers’ youth program; he cites Logan Grant and Steen Wallin as players that have done well, since they moved past the Chestermere association. And every Chestermere provincial win, or city championship, or even a good showing by his local team, is special for Corey.
A special event/moment occurred for Corey recently. A few years past, Calgary hosted the Canadian Nationals for players aged over 40. He was fortunate enough to play with an Ontario team which included some friends and former teammates; Corey had not played with some of them for more 25 years. Many of Corey’s youth players watched the finals, and cheered on Corey’s team. Unfortunately, Corey’s team did not win, but Corey was selected MVP of the tournament. (However, his coaching credibility, regarding base-running, was somewhat diminished by his tournament play.) Corey was extremely pleased, and surprised, to see the large number of his players and parents, make the effort to attend a tournament that he was participating in.
In the future, Corey would like to see more action/games across the US border. As a youth, he enjoyed his trips to Michigan in order to play against similarly aged teams. He is positive towards the tiering done by Baseball Alberta, and wants it to continue. Corey would also like most youth programs to try and schedule in another 5—9 games per season. However, he does not want teams to cut down their practice time to play more games.
Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, and the Alberta baseball community, would like to thank Corey for his time, knowledge, and efforts 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.
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