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Safety concerns run Campbell River Minor Baseball out of Nunns Creek Park

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Scenes like this one in the dugout are all too frequent for parents and kids arriving to play baseball at Nunns Creek Park these days, spurring a request to the city to let them move to the Sportsplex in Willow Point. Photo from CRMB presentation to City of Campbell River

Parents say ‘needle and feces sweeps’ have become part of everyday life for the baseball community

– By Mike Davies
Campbell River Mirror

Nunns Creek Park is no longer safe for children.

That was the message presented to city council by Campbell River Minor Baseball at the city’s May 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, where Stewart Dumont and Larry Samson with the Campbell River Minor Baseball Association asked the city to allow the association to move its activities to the Sportsplex.

With them they brought letters of support from numerous parents, volunteers and community members echoing the association’s concerns, many of which described specific issues of concern.

“Nunns Creek Park is not suitable for children to play at in my opinion,” wrote Terry Basso. “One of the moms was taking her younger children to the play area the other morning and I had to tell her to look for needles first. Is this where we want our children playing?”

Chantelle May, who has been actively involved in minor baseball since 2011, says while the behaviour and concerns aren’t new, they have certainly escalated over the years.

“From the very beginning, in 2011, we had to do what we dubbed ‘needle and feces sweeps’ of the fields, bathrooms and playground to assure that our children would not come into contact with anything/anyone dangerous to them,” writes May. “This just became a normal part of our duties before each game/practice.”

But recently, May says, they have gone from sweeping the fields for feces and needles to also encountering intoxicated people who threaten people’s safety.

“I had encountered a man occupying a bathroom, with his shopping cart, he had barricaded the door only to open it to spit at me because I had asked him to please pack up as we were hosting a tournament that weekend,” May writes. “He then went on a verbal tirade directed at anyone within earshot (about 50 parents and kids) with the most vulgar language I’ve ever heard.”

Stacey Rosse, manager of the league’s U11 Yankees, says she, too, has had enough.

“I love how excited my kids are to head to the ball field a couple times per week, however, as a parent/coach/manager there is also a a feeling of dread and anxiety,” Rosse says. “What will be waiting for us today when we get there? How many needles am I going to find on or near the field? How much garbage will be piled up in the dugout?

“I am a compassionate person,” Rosse continues, “but I am tired of worrying about the state of the fields and the people hanging around them. It’s not fair to our kids or to us as volunteers. The fact that many drug users frequent this area of town is not going to change anytime soon. It’s been this way as long as I can remember. We have a space in the Sportsplex that is hugely under-utilized that could be the perfect place to relocate our baseball program to. With a few upgrades we could finally have a safe and nice place to play baseball! A place that we would be proud to host teams from other communities instead of feeling embarrassed.”

Mayor Andy Adams says upon hearing these reports, council decided to immediately move CRMB to the Sportsplex. There was a recommendation to ask city staff to come back to council with a report on the matter, but council decided that three weeks was too long to wait.

“The presentation was disturbing,” Adams says. “But we wouldn’t be meeting again for three weeks and I felt that was too long to wait. We can’t have kids put in that type of situation, so the decision was to direct staff to have minor baseball move immediately to the Sportsplex.”

Adams admits, however, that there may be complications associated with that decision down the road.

“Nothing else is going on right now in the fields (at the Sportsplex), but the challenge will be if things do open up in terms of provincial health orders and other sports, whether it be rugby or slowpitch or other things get going, they all can’t fit at the Sportsplex.”

So the next move for the city is to establish an inventory of its fields and what shape they are in – perhaps partnering up with the school district on a plan – so they can get everyone able to play, as well as, Adams says, “figuring out what we’re going to do with Nunns Creek Park.”

That discussion, the mayor says, will happen at the May 31 meeting of city council.

Baseball BC

Rhonda Pauls recognized with 2021 Baseball Canada Umpire Developer Award

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The Baseball Canada Umpire Developer Award is handed out annually to an individual who has demonstrated commitment and excellency in the delivery of umpire education as part of the National Umpires Certification Program.

An accomplished umpire on the field whose resume includes numerous provincial, national, and international events, it was her off-field work that stood out in 2021 as she put in tremendous efforts in developing and growing the next generation of umpires.

As such, Baseball Canada is pleased to announce that British Columbia’s Rhonda Pauls is the winner of the Baseball Canada Umpire Developer Award for 2021.

With Covid-19 still impacting the way in which umpires are traditionally trained and developed, Rhonda’s work to create online educational resources ensured that information and development tools were provided to young umpires in BC and across Canada.

Rhonda created on online platform for the BC Baseball Umpires Association in addition to producing multi-hour, virtual training sessions for umpires in BC. Her teaching materials including lesson plans, instructional videos, quizzes, and presentations as part of her workshops and clinics.

A former winner of the Dick Willis Memorial Award for Baseball Canada Umpire of the Year (2014), Rhonda is a role model for aspiring female umpires and spent time in 2021 engaging female umpires across the country through a unique virtual series.

She has also used her platform to raise awareness around mental health in researching and developing materials for an interactive workshop.

Her efforts around mental health support and awareness did not stop there as she created a team of individuals in BC who serve as peer counsellors for mental health awareness. This is the only team of this nature in baseball in Canada.

Rhonda was also active in many of her off-field umpiring roles in 2021 including the planning and execution of the Super clinic as part of a group effort while also serving as President of the BC Baseball Umpire Association.

She was elected as a board member for Baseball BC where she participated actively in several committees including Strategic Planning and sat as a member of the Baseball Canada instructor development portfolio where she’s been instrumental in the re-design of the Senior Course Conductor Portfolio.

Umpire Developer Award recipients have included:

2020-Ed Quinlan & Chris Wilhelm (ON)

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Baseball BC

Butler Park to get new lights before 2022 season

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City council votes to install lighting and netting to Trail baseball park

By Jim Bailey – Trail Times
From an article on August, 26, 2021

City staff laid the groundwork to complete the lighting and netting additions to Butler Park before the start of the next baseball season.

After stadium light standards were deemed to be unsafe, the city removed the poles and netting this past year, and made way for a new installation.

At an Aug. 16 Governance and Operations Committee meeting, a staff report recommended four options for installing new stadium lighting and netting at the Trail baseball park.

“(Engineering technician) Kyle McCormick has worked diligently with engineers and vendors to come up with what we feel is a practical recommendation moving forward,” said public works director, Chris McIsaac.

Because the soil below Butler has low cohesion, engineers decided on the installation of drilled and cast-in-place concrete piles.

Also, the upgrades to the stadium lighting will reduce the number of standards needed from eight to six along with the number of LED stadium luminaries, and 15-gauge Dyneema netting will be strung along the first and third-base lines.

“This proposed Butler Park installation is a significant addition to the fiscal 2021 capital projects,” wrote Interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Rino Merlo. “To proceed in 2021 requires a substantial amount of non-budgeted cash.

“However, should council authorize this Report’s recommendations, the city has the funding to proceed in 2021.”

Merlo offered that funding could come from various sources including the city’s deferred amount within the UBCM Community Building Fund of $1.25M, the Capital Works Reserve Fund $236,000 and Surplus about $100,000.

“However, this significant draw down of capital resources reduces the city’s financial flexibility.”

Parks and Rec director Trisha Davison also confirmed that there is grant funding of about $235,000 pending.

The immediate costs were a concern for Mayor Lisa Pasin who said, when considering last year’s total capital budget, a $1.5M expenditure would amount to 55 per cent of the total budget allocated for capital.

To spend 55 per cent of a total budget on one project is significant for the city, she later clarified.

“And this should be evaluated within the context of all priority projects.”

Of the four options, Option 1 was the least expensive at $1.586M with all work being completed in 2021.

However, in a 5-2 vote, council chose Option 2, which will see pole foundations, underground electrical, and stadium lighting installed in phase 1, and completed with the netting put up in the spring of 2022.

The cost for Option 2 is estimated at $1.642M, more than Option 1, but less than Option 3 and 4 at $1.655M, whose estimated completion dates were by the end of 2022.

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Baseball BC

U18 Trail Orioles earn playoff berth with weekend sweep

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Orioles shortstop Nathan Dann knocked in the winning runs with a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning in a thrilling 8-7 victory over the Penticton Tigers on Sunday at Butler Park. Photo: Jim Bailey

The U18 Orioles cracked the top 8 and are off to Burnaby for the BCMBA College Prep playoffs

By Jim Bailey – Trail Times

August 4, 2021 – The Trail U18 Orioles secured a playoff spot after a sensational end to their first season in the College Prep Division of the BC Minor Baseball Association.

The Orioles wrapped up their regular season by sweeping a doubleheader against Ridge Meadows Royals on Saturday and another head-to-head match up against the Penticton Tigers at Butler Park Sunday.

The Orioles needed those wins, after losing four of their last five games, they were one game up on the Tigers for the final playoff spot heading into the final weekend.

Trail beat Ridge Meadows 4-2 in the opener, with Jesse Boyer pitching going the distance in the win.

The Orioles took a 3-2 lead in the first, and Jake Maniago’s base hit in the fifth scored Sam McLaren for the 4-2 final.

In Game 2, the Orioles kept rolling and scored four in the first and two more in the sixth on their way to a 6-2 victory.

Logan Bradford pitched 6 2/3 innings for the win in his longest outing of the year.

“Bradford struck out 10 and saved our bullpen for Sunday, which was huge,” said coach Jim Maniago. “Six different guys had hits that game, it was a good team win.”

The wins were crucial after hearing that Penticton swept South Fraser, setting up a must-win scenario for the final match ups Sunday.

“That set up the showdown Sunday,” said Maniago. “They needed to sweep us, we needed one win.”

The Tigers came out swinging and plated a home run off Jake Maniago in the first. But the Orioles stormed back, scoring two runs in the bottom half. It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when the Orioles scored three more.

“It was a nailbiter with some great pitching and defence, especially Landon Uzeloc and Chance Fisher on the infield.”

Connor stainer and Jake had two hits each, and seniors, Jesco Knelsen and Brayden DeWitt, had crucial two-out RBI hits in the 5-2 victory.

Jake pitched a complete game five hitter to earn the Orioles’ a berth in the 2021 playoffs.

In the final match, the Tigers fielded nine senior players and headed into the bottom of six with a 7-3 lead.

But the Os scored two on a Nathan Dann home run to cut the lead to 7-5. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Dann doubled cashing in two more runs for a walk-off 8-7 victory.

Stainer smacked two doubles, Bradford had two hits and Dann went 3 for 4 with four RBIs. Reid Gerrand picked up the win in relief, improving the O’s record to 12-12.

“We’re off to Provincials as the seventh seed,” said Maniago. “We told the kids we’re pretty proud of them.

“All told, we draw from maybe 20,000 people and we’re competing and beating these teams from big centres with paid coaching staffs that have more kids trying out than we have in our whole system.”

The U18 Orioles had a lot of reasons to roll over, said Maniago, but battled through injuries, players that opted out, and a tough travel schedule to make it into the top-8.

“The kids stuck with it and kept picking up wins and then to roll off five in a row to end the year and finish at 12-12 was pretty impressive.”

In round-1 of the BCMBA playoffs, the Orioles are in Group B with #2 seed North Fraser, #4 Kamloops and #5 Cloverdale. Trail’s first game goes in Burnaby at noon Friday, Aug. 6 vs North Fraser, a team they split their series with this season. Game 2 goes against Kamloops Saturday at noon, and Sunday versus Cloverdale at 3 p.m.

“We’re gonna be in tough,” added Maniago. “But we are a team no one wants to play.”

Note: The Trail U15 Orioles were poised to play in a wind-up tournament in Kelowna on the weekend but the league cancelled the tournament early Saturday morning due to wildfire smoke.

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