BY IAN THORPE
As Gene Autry famously sang, it’s “back in the saddle again.” Albeit somewhat precariously.
It was almost exactly one year ago that the Thorpe Report went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health restrictions were imposed, local sports were forced to shut down for safety reasons and there really wasn’t much to write about. It’s been a tough 12 months.
But now, we’re finally starting to see signs of recovery. Vaccines are arriving, restrictions are starting to be lifted and as spring officially arrives this weekend there is optimism that better times are ahead.
That definitely includes the return of amateur sports activities for youths and adults. Sports for the coming fall and winter season are being planned. And more immediately, spring and summer sports are cautiously gearing up for a return. Minor baseball, softball, football and lacrosse are among those organizations that are anxiously looking to resume in the weeks ahead with safety protocols of course in place.
So, I’m pleased to say that this column will make a tentative return to promote the efforts of sports as they re-establish themselves. We’ll appear once a month during the spring and see how things progress from there.
This week we feature the Nanaimo Minor Softball Association. NMSA was severely impacted last season, but did manage to organize practices and games between June and August. Now, volunteers are gearing up to proceed with the 2021 season under revised policies. Coaches have been found for all age groups and rosters are being filled on the understanding that team numbers may be restricted by any guidelines in place.
Heading up minor softball again this season is president Brian Cornborough, assisted by secretary Kelly Poystila and treasurer Mike Oldfield. Other directors are Jeremy Nickolet, Dave Poystila, Carisa Lent, Carla Morgan and Bruce Stevenson.
Last year NMSA managed 70 players on eight teams, with heavy parent involvement as monitors to ensure safety restrictions. To date for this coming season, 115 players are signed up for 12 teams. Many are new players, hopefully to be joined by others who maybe chose not to play last season but will return this year. Last year’s experience of dealing safely with COVID will be invaluable this time around. As well, it’s worth noting that NMSA has received a $7,500 grant from ViaSport which will assist with financial costs and allow softball to provide the best experience possible under the present health guidelines.
The minor softball season is planned to run from April through June. There will be house co-ed teams in the U6, U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U19 age divisions, with registration fees ranging from $120-160.
Minor softball also runs a rep program which is a step up from the house program. Registration for the rep Diamonds is $250. Registration is planned to continue until the end of this month, with a season opening on April 6 if all goes as planned. Games will be played at Pleasant Valley, Beban Park and Bowen West fields.
More information can be found at www.nanaimosoftball.ca. Also on the site is information on the minor softball AGM, which will be held virtually on March 29. Hopefully, that meeting will lead into a safe and successful season ahead for Nanaimo Minor Softball.
Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.