Take a look around the sports scene in Yellowknife and you’d be hard-pressed to find any team that’s been around for a long time.
The Weaver and Devore Marauders of the Yk Rec Hockey League is one that can claim quite the history and so can the Slades Expos in the Yk Fastball League.
But BFTA can claim to be the oldest team in the Yellowknife Slopitch Association and the squad got together last month to celebrate 40 years of fun and frolic.
Candace DeCoste, who has played with the slo-pitch team for 11 years now, helped put together the bash and said it just seemed like a good idea.
“Why not celebrate it?” she said. “We asked all of our current and former members to come and join in. Not everyone plays nowadays but most of us keep in touch and a lot of us keep it going.”
The team started back in 1978 and was actually involved in slo-pitch, curling and volleyball at the time. Tom DeBeyer is credited with starting the team back then with people such Fred and Linda Koe playing on it back then. Linda, while pregnant with twins, played first base. Contrary to the popular belief that the team started in Inuvik and moved to the capital, the team actually started in Yellowknife.
The Inuvik team that is mistaken for an early BFTA team was actually (jokingly) dubbed the “farm team.” The team, called the Delta Flashers, began because one of the BFTA members in Yellowknife went up to Inuvik on a work transfer and started the farm team.
The team’s philosophy has always been about being competitive but also having fun and DeCoste said that’s how the team has lasted as long as it has.
“It’s tough to keep teams together but everyone on our team has such a good attitude,” she said. “We’re always out having fun.”
This season saw BFTA start in the recreational A division, which may have been a bridge too far in terms of competition, said DeCoste.
“We didn’t win too many games,” she said. “We ended up working our way back down to the C division. The A division scares people off a bit and a lower division helps get new players on board.”
This year’s outfit featured plenty of people who have been working at the new hospital site and DeCoste said they’ve been a big help in keeping the roster full.
“They’ve kept us going for the last three years,” she said. “We had a great team this year and they were a big part of it.”
If you’re wondering what the acronym stands for, you aren’t alone. Unless you’ve been a part of the team, you probably don’t have a clue. According to a 2003 Yellowknifer article chronicling the 25th anniversary of the team, former team member Janice Redder said it stood for “Best F-ing Team Around”.
DeCoste has a friendlier translation.
“The Best Friendliest Team Around,” she said with a laugh. “We all love playing, we have lots of cheering and there’s lots of good times.”
As for the future, there will be one and it continues next year.
“We will have a 41st season,” said DeCoste. “We’re recruiting right now.”