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Alberta Amateur Baseball Council

Ray Fair Field in Cheadle, AB still going strong four years later

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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.

Today, Darren’s greatest satisfaction comes from seeing kids play baseball on the field. (The field is booked every night of the week.) He also gets great joy in hearing the astonishment of many people have when they first see the park. As well, he is always proud when he sees players taking selfies, prior to their participation at the park. Every time Darren sees the park, he is proud to be part of the group responsible for creating a dynamic youth facility.

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.

Alberta Amateur Baseball Council would like to thank Darren Cockx, as well as Jason, Sonny, and Rick for their contributions to Alberta youth baseball.

Alberta Amateur Baseball Council

Oikawa, Ianetti latest AABC weekly Honorees

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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 Oikawa, Lethbridge American Legion Program

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 Iannetti, Fort McMurray Minor Baseball Association

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.

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Baseball Alberta

Baseball Alberta Seeks New Program Coordinator

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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.

FOR FULL JOB DESCRIPTION and to apply on line via INDEED, CLICK HERE

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Alberta Amateur Baseball Council

AABC Weekly Passion for Baseball Honors to Garry Thomson

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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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