Sookies, big and small, gathered at the Art Morris diamond last week to get a glimpse of the new senior men’s fastball league — a sport that’s been on hiatus in Sooke for almost 20 years.
Complete with four teams (the Pirates, Hammers, Browns and Hustlers) and a whole row of passionate individuals, it seems it’s here to stay this time; and best part is, it’s created by fastball fans for other fastball fans — as well as the community as a whole.
And that was the whole idea really— bringing people together, says Andrew Medwedrich, manager of the Browns team.
“We want to get the ball back in Sooke and try and get the kids back into it – because that’s what matters,” he said, adding that fast pitch in general has died down so much in the last few years that not bringing it back would otherwise be detrimental for the local community. “If we can keep the kids out of trouble and maybe help upgrade the park, then we’re hopefully doing our job.
“We got so many kids here from Sooke that once they’re done their minor ball, they got nowhere to go,” he said. “You either go play slow-pitch or you’re back doing nothing and getting yourself into trouble somewhere else.”
With a bit of help from local businesses, as well as a good bit of personal will and enthusiasm, Medwedrich said the last and most important thing he had to do to get a fastball league going again was to tap into all those individuals who were left without a community to continue to play in.
“We grabbed old players, local people, buddies, anybody who was interested to come out and make this happen,” he said. The whole operation is also self-managed by key representatives on each team, so no coaches — a concept which not only works, but, as Medwedrich puts it, helps keep everyone in the game.
“We got a list of 50 guys and as the representatives of each team we just distribute them throughout the league to keep the teams as even as possible,” he said. “You don’t want to come out and have blow-outs every other week, who wants to watch that.”
Medwedrich says he’s feeling optimistic about the new league and the positive impact it is having on the community.
“The Sooke fans are awesome, the public’s good, so they always seem to come out and give their support,” he said. “The public can go and enjoy something, there’s not enough of it going on in Sooke.”
Fastball games will now take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m.