A celebration was held in 1953 for Sooke’s B.C. Juvenile Girls Softball Champions. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Community celebrates 1953 girls softball champions

Elida Peers | Contributed

Recently I mentioned in a column that Sooke historically looked after its youth in sports and that one of the reasons the Sooke Community Hall was built to such large dimensions in 1937 was to accommodate league basketball games.

It wasn’t long before softball, too, became one of the “in” sports, and again, Sooke youngsters excelled.

In 1953, when this photo was taken of our B.C. Juvenile Girls Softball Champions, the celebration was held in the hall, that same long-standing volunteer-built community hall that has served so many sports over the past 80 years.

All in their early teens, students at Milne’s Landing High School, these girls were coached by Fred Lajeunesse, at left, and Jack Aplin, at right, and frequently honed their skills playing against Belmont High. Some will remember that Fred Lajeunesse was husband to Stella Lajeunesse, a longtime teacher at the high school.

Standing are Connie Brown, daughter of logger Alf Brown, who became Mrs. Allen Olmstead, Irene Woodruff, Rose Hawkins, Gail Lajeunesse who became Mrs. Gordon Hall, Lorraine Sheilds who became Mrs. Chummy Crabbe, and Jo Ann Elder who became Mrs. Danny Lajeunesse, and who was to become particularly well-known for her talent with the Japanese floral art form, Ikebana.

In front are Irene Hansen, who became Mrs. Bernie Watker, Gloria Millikin, who became Mrs. Art Binks, Jeannie Smith, who became Mrs. Bob Banner), Elinor Eve, who became Mrs. David McClimon). Next is Marcia Pontious, who became Mrs. Joe Selby, and whose waterfront property, which had been left to her by her family, later became Sooke’s Macgregor Park. The last two on the right are Barbara Rainey and Jackie Aplin.

Looking back on the picture today, Elinor McClimon says, “It was one of the biggest things that happened to us; back then, we didn’t go to movies, we played ball. Our regular practice games were usually at the Art Morris Park. In summer, we played softball, and in winter, we played basketball in the community hall. For competitions, we didn’t travel far, as the teams do nowadays; when we went to the championship game in the Fraser Valley, it was the first time some of us had been off the island. It was fun!”

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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