Triangle Baseball kicked off opening ceremonies in the pouring rain, but that didn’t stop hundreds of families from coming out and filling the lower parking lot at West Shore Parks and Recreation.
“I give credit to all these people standing in the rain right now,”said Brian White, vice president of Triangle Baseball. “We’re West Coast baseball players, man.”
White has been with the club since he played tee ball and has spent time on the board over the past 12 years. He has coached his nephew and now coaches his sons.
The club has teams for kids ages four to 16, and they are experiencing major growth on the West Shore. There are 426 kids on 30 teams this year, which is a 10 per cent increase from last year.
White said the City of Langford gave Triangle Baseball the use of A.T. Gordon Memorial Park, Ed Fisher Park and Luxton Park, but those diamonds only accommodate baseball teams of mosquito division or younger, which is for children up to ages nine and 10.
They need more of the bigger fields for the pee wee division and up.
Each team plays a total of 12 games for house ball and then there’s City playoffs, tournaments and house playoffs. White said the club spends about $15,000 to $22,000 each season to pay for fields.
They pay for the use of fields at West Shore Parks and Recreation and for school fields they practice on.
Youth involvement in baseball in the West Shore is growing at a time when there is a decline in youth interest in the sport worldwide, as seen with the introduction of Major League Baseball’s “Play Ball” initiative which began in 2015. MLB launched the program with USA Baseball to encourage participation among all age groups, with a special focus on youth.
White, and tournament co-ordinator Crystal Burkard are thrilled there has been so much demand for baseball on the West Shore. Burkard is in her second year on the board for Triangle Baseball and her children participate with the club.
The club is run by volunteers, and White said they are in need of more coaches, especially in the younger age groups as older players age out and their parents stop coaching.
They also need more people to join the board.
White said they try to keep kids involved in the sport year-round.
“Baseball is our life, we play it 10 months of the year now, with winter clinics, indoor training and summer ball,” he said.
He said it’s a dream of theirs to have an indoor pitching and hitting facility, similar to what the Victoria Eagles use in Oak Bay, because their players would play every day if they could.
Triangle holds indoor winter clinics Monday and Friday evenings at Eagle Ridge from January until March, April to June is house ball, July to the first week of August is summer ball, August is off and then fall ball starts in September.
Even in their month off in the summer White has a list of players he will send mass texts messages to come and practice and sometimes 15 kids will show up.
White’s favourite part about coaching isn’t the destination, it’s the journey.
“Starting with a team, that literally, you look out there and they don’t know which way to run, and by the end of the season they’re buddies and everything you practice, you watch a game and you see the little things you taught them, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.