It was quite the ride for the youngest team entered in the Kivalliq junior softball tournament in Rankin Inlet from July 26 to 28.
The Rankin 14-and-under players surprised everyone at the rain-soaked tourney with the exception of their coaching staff, Dave Wiseman, Holly Mercer and Robert Kabvitok, who entered the event full of confidence in their team.
The young guns dropped the final to Coral Harbour 14-0 after eliminating Arviat 26-13 in their semifinal, while Coral ousted Rankin’s 16-and-under squad 21-4 in their semi.
Baker Lake and Whale Cove also competed at the event.
Wiseman said the tournament itself was fantastic, despite the rain.
He said every player at the event seemed to have a great time all weekend long.
“A lot of the kids who came from out of town had just as much fun visiting family and friends and playing with other kids in Rankin as they did playing in the tournament,” said Wiseman.
“The playgrounds were full every time I drove past them during the weekend.
“Even though it rained like a bugger almost all weekend long, it didn’t seem to bother the kids one little bit.”
Wiseman said the players on their team were all aged 12 to 14, so it’s quite possible a team or two may have taken them too lightly as the games rolled past.
But what some may not have known, was the team was almost identical to the fastball squad he, Mercer and Kabvitok had overseen the previous year.
“Holly and Robert started a fastball league this past year and asked me to help out mainly because I knew the rules for fastball,” said Wiseman.
“Once we realized David (recreation co-ordinator David Clark) was putting this tournament on, we entered our fastball team from the previous year.
“Everyone thought it was going to be a cake walk playing against us because our team was so young.
“My son (Gregory Wiseman) was asked to play with a 16-and-under team, and I told him stick with us and we’ll make it all the way to the final. He did and so did we.”
Wiseman said the big advantage the young Rankin team had was that its players were used to playing together.
He said the Rankin players had been together for two years and, with the exception of Coral Harbour, the other teams made far more mental errors on the field than the young squad.
“Our team was so young and you could tell in the final they were really nervous playing Coral.
“Not to take anything away from Coral – they played great ball all weekend – but the errors we made in the final took us out of the game before we really settled in.
“But, for a team that young to make it to the final playing against a bunch of 16-year-olds was truly awesome.
“The kids in the tournament had a pure ball and that’s what these events are supposed to be all about.”