News Stories

Softball association revives the love of the game in Bracebridge

May 17, 2017

Bracebridge, ON - - Softball association revives the love of the game in Bracebridge

Grade 3 student Desmond Gauthier is one of many students at Monck Public School learning all about the game of softball thanks to a visit from the Ontario Amateur Softball Association. - Mary Beth Hartill/Metroland


ORIGINAL STORY by Mary Beth Hartill, Bracebridge Examiner 

BRACEBRIDGE — Softball may be making a comeback in schools thanks to the efforts of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association.

Association brass including president Gary Waugh, Team Ontario coach and former PanAm Games Team Canada coach George Ryder, former coach and parent of a Team Ontario athlete Martin Wylie, and Bracebridge’s own Team Canada athlete Michael Crawford gathered up their gear and headed to Monck Public School on May 10 and 11.

The association is running clinics to get softball back into schools.

“When we were young all the schools played ball,” said Waugh. “We’re trying to get the numbers up.”

This season they plan to go to 14 schools across the province. They have already been to Bracebridge Public School and Macaulay Public School this year and will be heading over to Muskoka Falls Public School in June. Across the province, they have educated 1,400 students about the benefits of softball. They have six schools to go.

The stop at Monck was special running for two days, because, according to Waugh, the teacher wanted the entire school to have the opportunity to attend the clinic.

Waugh recalls a time when students played ball for fun as often as they could.

He said there are a few reasons behind a decline in the sport including the fear of bats and balls becoming weapons.

This doesn’t appear to be a concern for Monck’s gym teacher Dave Wright, who has watched as the students embraced the sport. Thanks to the association’s visit, Wright now has enough equipment for the kids to play.

“We play some softball but we didn’t have enough gloves,” he said.

Another hit to the sport was the success of the Toronto Blue Jays, who had parents angling to get their kids playing in the major leagues. But the reality is very few make that level. Whereas, says Waugh, softball can keep people playing their whole lives. A master’s league has players still taking to the field at 50-plus.

“Softball is just a friendlier game,” said Crawford. “Todd Martin (also of Bracebridge) and I have been able to travel around the world thanks to this sport.”

by Mary Beth Hartill

Mary Beth Hartill is a reporter with the Bracebridge Examiner. She can be reached at . Follow her on Twitter and Facebook