A surge in interest in playing summer baseball has left organizers scrambling to find places to host their games, a problem that doesn’t seem to have an easy solution.
Some 11 years ago, Elmira fielded both rep and houseleague softball teams for youngsters. But registration numbers began to fall by the wayside as other sports such as soccer gained popularity in the township and interest in softball subsequently waned. Since last year’s renewed interest, however, the sport has continued to grow, said Elmira Minor Softball Association organizer Greg Brubacher.
“Our numbers are up quite a bit this year.”
As a result, the EMSA is fielding a number of teams this spring in T-ball (ages 4-5), rookie ball (ages 6-7, with eight-year-olds welcome as well), houseleague (ages 4-12) and rep ball (ages up to 18 years).
With the renewed interest, the organization’s program has grown to more than 160 players this year from about 60 in 2009.
Rep teams that are part of North Waterloo softball tend to travel to surrounding areas such as Conestogo, St. Jacobs, St. Clements and New Hamburg, whereas houseleague teams travel much less, playing their games in town. With a greater number of kids wanting to play, comes a greater need for ball diamonds.
“That’s our struggle,” said Brubacher, who has two sons in the program. “There are not too many places in Elmira to play ball during the week.”
Currently, the teams use the diamonds at Lions Park, Riverside Public School, John Mahood Public School and the community diamond in Floradale.
“We are working with the township to try and get more facilities if our numbers continue to grow,” he noted. “But what it boils down to is that they don’t have areas to put new diamonds. It’s one of those ‘wait and see’ things.”