A softball clinic for Inuvik youth was hosted from June 8 to 9, where more than 50 kids came out to learn about the basic fundamentals of the game.
Paul Gard, the executive director of NWT Softball, was one of two instructors for the clinic. He said that the goal is to get youth playing and enjoying softball again.
“It used to be huge in the territories…We’re trying to get kids back out playing ball. It’s a tough one because of our season and the weather,” said Gard.
Before hosting their clinic in Inuvik, Gard and co-instructor Bryan Sask had recently completed two similar workshops in Norman Wells and Deline. Due to poor weather conditions in both communities, sessions were relocated indoors in their respective school gyms.
“The school programs work well, because they let the kids play in the school,” said Gard. “With softball being a summer sport, with the weather in the North, it’s a challenge to get them going before the parents say its holiday time when school is done.”
The clinic is an initiative by the “Learn to Play” national softball program, which offers various introductory sessions to budding softball players between the ages of 5 and 10. This year’s clinic featured youth who were also between the ages of 12 and 14.
“It’s just basic learn to play skills. It doesn’t matter their skill level. We try to put them in the age group where they feel comfortable,” said Gard.
With the help of parent volunteers, participants were introduced to basic technical skills on the first day, which included running the bases, hitting and throwing the ball, fielding and more.
“On the second day, we take that and put it into a game situation,” said Sask, who was visiting from Surrey, B.C.
Gord added that the local talent displayed over the weekend was “very promising.”
“When I get back to Yellowknife, we’re supposed to have a clinic/tournament July 1 weekend. There are some girls here that are 12 to 13 who we want to help develop,” he said. “There’s a couple boys and girls who we want to come down for it.”
According to Gard, there were a total of 11 sessions hosted over the weekend: six on the first day and five on the second. Each lesson lasted for around an hour or more, with each group having one session per day.
Youth not only walked away with newfound baseball skills and knowledge, but they were also given free Softball Canada t-shirts.
Gard said that he’s hoping to host another clinic here in Inuvik before the season ends.
“We’re working on it. We’re working on some indoor programs. It can be done in the gym,” he said.
The clinic was free to those youth who are registered with the Inuvik Minor Softball Association. Jo-Anne Kinsella, a volunteer for the group who helped organize the event, said that there were a total of 125 youth registered in the league.
Their season began on June 3 and will run for six weeks, according to Kinsella. Every Monday and Wednesday, youth between the ages of 5 and 16 will have had the opportunity to play at least one game of softball.