From the First Annual Sugarcane Fastball Tournament, to the recent Williams Lake Indian Band Spring Classic Ball Hockey Tournament, it’s safe to say it’s been a great summer of sports so far just south of the lakecity.
In May, a major upgrade and renovation was completed at the Sugarcane Fastball Diamond featuring new infield crushed brick, field lighting, a fully irrigated outfield, new bleachers, a new backstop and a new washroom.
This spurred on the First Annual Sugarcane Fastball Tournament, which took place early June.
Four teams: Ashcroft, Prince George, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake squared off.
“Everybody was stoked to have ball back,” WLIB Coun. and one of the tournament’s organizers, Willie Sellars said.
“It’s just part of what we’re trying to do here at WLIB: contribute to the community by having events like this. We aren’t trying to make money. Just put on a good, community event where people can come hang out because we’re partners in this area, and the recreation side of it is just getting people out and trying to grow some sports here and get kids out of the house striving for something.”
At the tournament, Sellars said his team, Williams Lake, held its own placing third after defeating 100 Mile House in the bronze-medal game.
By far, though, Sellars said the highlight of the tournament was playing under the lights in the evening game against Ashcroft — a 5-2 victory for Williams Lake.
“It was a barn burner,” Sellars said. “There were probably 150 people there, easy. And we had some young kids playing for us like Malakai Andy, and then Jayce Myers — he got his first career hit under the lights — and Cory Loring. Just good, young guys that are showing interest which is really cool trying to grow the sport, and that’s key to it being successful in the future.”
In the final, Prince George defeated Ashcroft to win the championship.
Also adding to the hype for the weekend were the announcing skills of Cecil Grinder.
“Cec showed up Saturday morning and did every game for the whole weekend,” Sellars said. “He was a star for us.”
He also thanked Lynn Gilbert for scorekeeping every game during the weekend, and the Williams Lake Minor Fastball Association for hosting an exhibition game.
“There was just a ton of buzz around the tournament because it was so well run,” he said.
Coming on the heels of the fastball tournament, meanwhile, was the WLIB Spring Ball Hockey Classic, later in June.
It was a one-day tournament held at the Sugar Cane Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium.
“There were lots of games, and it was hot in there,” Sellars said.
Five teams in the men’s division (Williams Lake Wolverines, Warlords, Stone Yellow Jackets, Play On and Young Bucks) and three teams in the women’s division (Snipers, Fox Furrys and Williams Lake Eagles) competed.
In the championship, Williams Lake defeated the Warlords, 12-10, to take first place.
“It went back and forth the whole time,” said Sellars, who was the goaltender for Williams Lake.
And in the women’s division, after each finishing with one win and one loss in the round robin, the Snipers, mostly made up of players from Stone, knocked off the Fox Furrys in the final.
“We’ve been having our annual ball hockey tournament in Sugarcane since I was just a kid,” Sellars said. “I used to help organize it like 15 years ago, but this year’s was really good.
“It’s a great community event and doesn’t really cost anyone anything. We made a little cash for the recreation department, and it’s a fundraiser for our youth group.”
Third in the men’s division were the Stone Yellow Jackets, fourth was Play On and fifth place were the Young Bucks. Finishing third in the women’s division were the Williams Lake Eagles.
Most valuable player on the men’s side went to Warlords’ player Evan Potskin of Prince George, who tallied 19 goals on the weekend.
Cory Loring of Williams Lake was named a tournament all-star, while Mike Judd of the Warlords earned the top goaltender nod.
In the women’s division the tournament MVP was Grace Setah, tournament all-star was Gwitne Alphonse and best goalie was Tamara William.