Yk Minor Fastball had itself another road trip last weekend and this time, it was the younger set that got to take in Hay River.
A group of 10 players, along with some parent volunteers, joined in with their counterparts from Hay River Minor Ball for a U12 jamboree that wrapped up on June 27. This latest venture followed one taken by the U16 Wolverines group last month which also occurred in Hay River. The return trip from that one is expected to happen later this month.
Jenn Lukas was one of the coaches who made the trip down and she said it was another well-run jamboree, especially with the weather.
“The kids were all really keen to learn and try new things,” she said. “Most of them were introduced to pitching for the first time and they picked it up really well.”
The opening night on June 25 featured everyone getting together for a barbecue before the heavy work began the following morning with the skills. Volunteers manned the various stations, which included pitching, fielding and catching fly balls among them. Once that was complete, it was off to play some games on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning with every player divided up into one of two teams.
For those who wanted to pitch, Lukas said they got some extra work in before taking to the rubber and there was no pressure on them at all.
“If anyone got to four balls, the coaches would step and pitch to the batter,” she said. “There was no emphasis on the score or anything like that. We had coaches on the field to help out. It was more about development than anything else.”
An umpire made the trip from Yellowknife to oversee the on-field proceedings during games, she added.
“A chance to impress the kids,” she said.
The Hay River contingent seemed to have plenty of fun, according to Angela Carter, Hay River Minor Ball’s vice-president.
She said with the exception of the heat, it went off about as well as it could have.
“We had plenty of comments from the kids about how much fun they had and it went off without a hitch,” she said. “In a small town like this, you sometimes don’t get enough people to play games (and) the kids left asking when we would be playing again and we even got some extra registrations for minor ball so that’s a big bonus.”
It was the first time Hay River had hosted that age group, she added, and the plans are to do it again next year if it’s possible.
For the Yellowknife players, they’ve only been practicing since the start of the season earlier this month; the Covid-19 outbreak in May caused things to be pushed back a bit, said Lukas.
“We usually have games scheduled every Sunday at Tommy Forrest (Ball Park) for that age group but we had to delay things for a bit,” she said. “It’s exciting for them to get a chance to play and everyone had a great time.”