CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
You might not guess it if you looked outside or took a stroll past the ball diamonds but it is officially spring training for minor baseball in Ponoka.
Brian Czapp, member of the Ponoka Minor Ball Association, says numbers are down slightly compared to previous years.
“Numbers are down a little bit on the baseball and softball sides and what we’ve been hearing from other communities is they are as well,” said Czapp.
Gone are the days when kids used to play hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer.
“There are a lot of opportunities for kids out there these days and probably a lot of people aren’t thinking of ball when there is five feet of snow on the ground,” said Czapp. “But we do have a category filled on both the baseball and softball.”
The association is hosting clinics through April, giving young boys and girls a chance to get in the gym at Diamond Willow Middle School and throw the ball around. Czapp says it is important for kids to learn the fundamentals of pitching and throwing correctly from a young age and that baseball teaches the kids a lot of lessons that are applicable on and off of the field.
“You look for communication and team spirit and the development of all players. We are concentrating on development and confidence, feeling good about themselves and the sport. Our job is to make sure they come back next year and if they do we’ve done a pretty good job as a coach and as an organization,” said Czapp.
He is happy to see all of the volunteers who are willing to help out and the Town of Ponoka that take care of the diamonds.
Ponoka will host a Best Ever Clinic on May 7 for area squirt girl baseball players. The clinic is hosted by Alberta Softball and will feature university players giving hands-on tutelage to softball players.
Ponoka Minor Ball players will compete in a league involving teams from across central Alberta and the first-to-third, called third strike and walk-off homerun action all gets started the beginning of May running through till the end of June.
“We put the kids first and once you do that it puts everything in perspective pretty quickly,” said Czapp.
Putting kids first is the key for the Ponoka Minor Ball Association and all they need now is for the snow to melt, so that baseball fans can all see a kid on first.