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Coors tourney bigger than ever, hometown team take third place

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo On Aug. 9, a sweeper cleans the surface of a newly-chipsealed section of Highway 5 through Wood Buffalo National Park.

Another year – this one the 35th – and another successful Coors Mixed Slo-Pitch Tournament is in the books.

The tournament, held on the Civic Holiday long weekend, attracted 18 teams to Hay River, which according to Chabby Morin was a record number of teams for the event.

And Morin should know, since he has played in a big majority of the 35 tournaments.
"I think I've played in 28 of 'em," he said.

"This year there were 18 teams. That's very good because usually it's 16," he added, noting there were a couple of years when the number of teams went down to a dozen.

Morin's team – the Hay River Oreos – placed third in the tournament, which was the best showing for any Hay River entry.

The winner of the tournament was a team called Northern Tribe from the High Level/Fort Vermilion area in northern Alberta.

Morin said the Oreos were just one game short of making it to the final, but were beaten by the Fort Fitz Bombers, who went on to play Northern Tribe in an "exciting" final game.

"It gets competitive," he said. "There are usually some teams that will come here and just come to mingle with people. And then there are other teams coming here that are in it to win it. They want to come here and produce and play hard."

Morin said Hay River is privileged to host the Coors Mixed Slo-Pitch Tournament.

"It brings a lot of people in every summer," he said. "A lot of people enjoy coming here."
As for why this year saw 18 teams, Morin said there was a lot of interest from other communities, plus a very large tournament – up to 240 teams – usually held the same weekend in Edson, Alta., was cancelled.

"I think a lot more teams wanted to come and check this one out," he said of the Hay River event.
Morin said one team from Edmonton showed up that hadn't been in Hay River before, along with a team from Fort Simpson that hadn't been represented for years.

In addition, teams came from Yellowknife, Fort Smith and northern Alberta, along with a half-dozen teams from Hay River.

Melanie Desjarlais, treasurer of the Hay River Mixed Slo-Pitch League, said there was also one team from Saskatchewan.

Desjarlais confirmed there were 18 teams this year, including her own team the Trappers.
"The team I played on we lost all our games. So there were some good teams here," she said with a laugh.

Desjarlais said the weather was awesome for the tournament, despite a touch of rain on Aug. 5.
"But it didn't stop us from playing, and the rest of the weekend turned out great," she said.
There was also great support from the community, Desjarlais said. "The bleachers were full."

NNSL file photo Broderick Deedza of Meander River, Alta., competes in the jigging section of last year's Biggest Fiddling & Jigging Championship North of 60 at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Marissa Oteiza: president of the Hay River Literacy Society returned for second year leading organization.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Jim Darby: the town's director of recreation and community services stands next to the swimming pool, which will be closed for annual maintenance for most of September.
NNSL file photo R.J. Simpson: MLA for Hay River North gets update on issues of concern to seniors.
NNSL file photo This was the demolition site of the old Don Stewart Recreation Centre in mid-July of last year, just over a week before an accident that injured a worker on the project.