By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES — A new local minor softball league is on the scene, having played their inaugural game on Tuesday, June 29. The league has been put together by Michelle Barter, and the first expression of interest for enrolment went out back on April 26 for kids around the Southwest coast region.
The league has quickly gained members, both in terms of volunteers and participants, with 55 kids already registered to play ball. There are 34 players in Group B, and 21 in Group A.
“It started out for kids ages seven to nine, but we do have a few ten-year-olds, because they were not eligible for the league that starts in Grade 5. We wanted to get them started earlier than Grade 5. It’s being held in Port aux Basques, but open to all kids from the surrounding area. The focus is to provide foundational skills and knowledge,” said Barter.
The community support for the league has been impressive and important.
The Town Council said during the regular June meeting that they would offer support to the league. Mayor John Spencer said that he thought it was fantastic that there is a revitalization of softball and baseball in the town.
“The Town has followed up based on our letter to them for a donation. They have been in contact to provide their support. Actually, they have now ordered a few items that we picked out,” said Barter.
Personal donations have also been coming in, including some from former area residents.
There have also been contributions from a large number of local businesses.
“The support has been phenomenal,” said Barter.
Barter also said she is thrilled by the increased interest in sports in the community, and that it seems greater than in previous years.
“I also think there are more opportunities being offered than before, so it’s hard to say which came first. There may also be a little bit of COVID rebound – people are just wanting to get their kids involved and outdoors. Last year soccer did not go ahead, and parents missed that for their kids.”
Sports offer many proven benefits that are mental, physical and emotional, which has become more apparent than ever during the pandemic.
“Increased physical activity, spending time outdoors, creating new friendships, teamwork, increase focus and attention. Like all sports, I really find it makes a difference to their overall ability to understand the importance of respect and work ethic. Of course, an opportunity to have fun is also really important,” said Barter.
The benefits gained through physical activity is Barter’s specialty. She runs a fitness-based business, Ultimate Circuits, and she is also a Certified Fitness Instructor Specialist and Children’s Fitness Coach with Canfit Pro.
“I offer mainly metabolic resistance training classes, and I (have)done dryland for the swim team and off-ice for the Minor Hockey Novice Division. The minor hockey off-ice piece has been a volunteer thing as an extension of my husband’s head coaching role,” explained Barter. “The Children’s Fitness Coach course, too, with Canfit Pro to provide me with the knowledge and skills to safely and effectively offer physical activity programs to children 7-12.”
Barter expressed gratitude for the league’s wonderful coaching team.
“We have a dynamic group of coaches with us, many who coach sports in our community, and many who are seasoned softball players. We have also have some people involved who have been providing a number of admin functions. Also, we have recruited a number of high school/early university age coaches which we are super excited about,” said Barter.
The league has committed to six to eight sessions, and depending on the weather they may continue until September, though they are hoping to finish in August if possible.
Current plans for the future involve approaching local businesses for support in the purchase of uniforms for the team next year.
Those with children interested in signing up for the league can reach out through their Facebook group, Minor Softball Foundations 2021, or directly to any of the coaches.