The news from the province outlining the return of adult sports leagues late last month came as a grand slam to the ears of players, and organizers, of the Williams Lake Slo-Pitch League.
Slo-pitch league president Linda Barbondy, along with its executive, have been busy over the past several months laying the groundwork for a return to play should such a decision come down from the province. As of June 1, players officially returned to the slo-pitch diamonds at the Esler Sports Complex for regular league play.
“It’s just nice to see how excited everyone was,” said Barbondy of the some 700 players who will make up 30 teams spanning five divisions, A to E, this season.
“We were just waiting for that Tuesday (May 25) announcement and hoping some of the restrictions would be lifted.”
COVID-19 protocol at the ball fields will still need to be followed, Barbondy stressed, as no spectators will be allowed at the fields until June 15. After that, limited numbers, 50 per field, will be permitted.
Barbondy said an icebreaker tournament of sorts is in the works to be held at a to-be-determined date, while the year-end tournament is slated to run from Sept. 16-19.
Work and upgrades, meanwhile, are continuing at the ball fields.
“We have huge plans for the ball park this year,” Barbondy said. “New bleachers were all finished up a couple years ago, we finished the new backstops last year and all the dugouts got a new coat of paint inside and out just recently, along with almost everything else.”
This summer, the WLSPL has partnered with Celtic Group owner Daryl Taylor for the installation of new, concrete players’ benches and garbage and recycling pads.
“They are donating a whole bunch of equipment, concrete and labour,” Barbondy said. “They have poured 20 concrete pads — 16 for new players’ benches and four for our garbage and recycling bins.”
Another project on the go is the installation of new fencing, as well as new infield shale for each of the park’s four infields. The WLSPL is also working with the Cariboo Regional District on irrigation upgrades being undertaken at the Esler Sports Complex.
“It’s incredible, the work that’s gone on up there, and our fields look awesome,” she said, thanking the countless amount of volunteers who have chipped in. “It’s nice to go up there and everybody’s excited to play ball.”