Phase two of the NWT’s re-opening has made things a lot easier when it comes to sports, especially those outdoors.
For the Yellowknife Slopitch Association, it means the 2020 season can actually be just that: a season.
The association’s new campaign got going down at Fritz Theil Field on Sunday evening with the first games and it couldn’t come soon enough for Rebekah Clarke, the association’s new president.
She said phase one would have made things awfully tough to operate.
“It was a tough decision to hold off when phase one came in but phase two was when we figured it would be the earliest we could get going,” she said. “We hadn’t had an annual general meeting and we still didn’t know how many teams we would have but we all wanted to play ball.”
The association ended up having its annual general meeting on June 6 and there will be 31 teams across four divisions playing this season.
“I’m really pleased with that many,” said Clarke. “We put out the call in May to see who would be interested in playing and we didn’t get a lot of response then but Yellowknife is such a last-minute town and the teams started rolling in. Generally, there are a lot more teams than we have this season but it’s more than we anticipated and I’m happy.”
Like the Yk Fastball League, the association has come up with regulations which had to be approved by Protect NWT before play could commence. Those regulations include a maximum of 21 players per team, hand sanitizer for each team, sanitizing of game balls at all times and wiping down any shared bats.
Tagging of baserunners will be allowed and Clarke said that was a big one.
“We thought there would be no tagging but we saw the (fastball) guys doing it and we wanted it as well,” she said. “It takes away from the game if we can’t tag.”
Games will be happening at Fritz Theil Field and Parker Park diamond no. 1 only; diamond no. 2 has been taken out of service by the city. Each diamond can have up to 50 people in the vicinity at one time, meaning the two diamonds at Fritz Theil can have 50 at each.
Clarke said that was an important distinction she wanted to make.
“Those diamonds are back-to-back so we were worried about whether it would be 50 per diamond or 50 total in the park,” she said. “We weren’t too sure about that but when it came back that it was 50 per diamond, that was a big relief.”
Clarke also said there will be a head count taken at each diamond, if necessary, to ensure the limit of 50 is being adhered to.
“There’s the walkway in between both diamonds, which is rather popular, and people like to sometimes stop and watch there,” she said. “That’s a concern and we’ll be making sure people don’t stay there for too long.”
But the important thing is that things are up and running now, said Clarke, which some communities in Canada can’t say.
“Some leagues in Canada just decided to not have anything this year because of it,” she said. “All of the effort we put in up here makes it all worth it and we get to be out enjoying the sun and playing ball.”