Fastball registration takes upward swing

Sooke Minor Fastball has 250 players registered, up from 159 last year.

Sooke Minor Fastball has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of registered players this year, says president Chris Bryant.

The spring league saw 250 players register, up from 159 last year.

Much of the growth has come through younger players within the developmental program, but the rep teams are thriving too.

Teams in the U12 to U19 divisions are full and some players turned away.

“It’s frustrating that the size of the park and the population doesn’t allow us to carry two full teams unless we really ramp it up,” Bryant said.

Part of the problem is the lack of qualified coaches and enough pitchers and catchers to fill team rosters.

Still, while all players couldn’t find a team to play on this year, Bryant is thrilled the program is growing.

On the boys side, Sooke Minor Fastball is fielding three teams in U10, U16 and U18, and there are two midget, two U12, a U16 and U14 girl squads.

“Sooke has become the epicenter for boys fastball in the region,” Bryant said. “We have more boys teams than any other field on the South Island.”

Bryant points out that much of the success of this year’s program has been the amount of awareness brought to the sport in the last year through media reports, advertising and the hard work of the fastball executive.

Despite the success of this year’s program, Bryant said there is still work to do.

Fastball registration in Sooke peaked in 2000 and 2001 when more than 350 children played.

And the recent referendum for the DeMamiel Creek golf course has brought in focus the future of recreation in Sooke.

“People who have kids one, two, three years of age have to start thinking about recreation,” Bryant said. “What is going to happen to Art Morris and Fred Milne Parks?

“What direction do we want – or need – for sport and recreation in our community?”

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Sooke Minor Fastball is quickly becoming a powerhouse for coaching on Vancouver Island.

Earlier this spring, the organization hosted two weekend clinics with high level coaches from the Lower Mainland to present Softball B.C. and National Coaching Certification Program workshops.

More than 30 participants came from throughout B.C.

Seven players from within the Sooke Minor Fastball organization graduated from the program.

Anyone interested in coaching fastball must be certified.

“I’ve never met a coach, or anyone interested in coaching, who has come away with any of the Softball B.C. coaching clinics and said it was a waste of time,” said Chris Bryant, president of Sooke Minor Fastball.