By Greg Price
It is a slo-pitch league that continues to make inroads in southern Alberta and looks to be a positive link for Mennonite youth.
Currently there is a Mennonite Slo-Pitch League that features 16 teams that have both adults and youth featured.
“The league is every third weekend, but every team has the opportunity to play in their division throughout the summer (on any day) that goes towards the standings, but that’s optional. The regular schedule is every third weekend,” said Frank Klassen, a co-organizer of the Mennonite Slo-Pitch League.
Situated primarily in Enchant, where teams play two games on Sundays, the league also plays games in Taber and the Vauxhall areas.
The league has experienced steady growth in recent years.
Last year, two youth teams were added, with four more primarily youth teams added this year.
The league starts on Mother’s Day and ends around the first week of September.
“The goal of the league is to give kids an alternative to the partying and drinking. There is a problem with some of the youth and (we) want to address that by giving them an option to do something else with their free time,” said Klassen.
“There are a lot of parents that want their kids to play in this league, too, instead of making trouble and doing things they shouldn’t be doing on weekends. There is a bad reputation with a bad group around, but not all Mennonites are like that. ”
The league will be holding a slo-pitch game fundraiser at Jets Stadium on Aug. 14 in Vauxhall to bring awareness to the league in attracting more youth and also to give towards a good cause. Spectators are encouraged to attend.
“The whole league wanted to put on an all-star game and I know most of our guys haven’t played under the lights, so we thought why not make this special and have an all-star game under the lights,” said Klassen.
“Our church went on a mission to Guatemala and one school we visited with 95 kids, a lot of the kids only got one meal a day, with a bun and a small teaspoon of beans. They were really struggling to keep that school going because of money. (The school) needs about $180 a month to keep going. So we figured we could give them a hand by doing fundraising with these all-star games.”
Two teams of younger children (future all-stars) will play at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 at Jets Stadium in Vauxhall.
That will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. game featuring older youth (youth all-stars) and then there will be a wrap-up adult all-star game at 9 p.m.
Funds raised for the school in Guatemala will be earned through food sales or any silver donations people want to donate for entry into Jets Stadium to watch some fun and competitive slo-pitch.
“It’s more than just a game. Youth are looking for alternatives. It’s a sport I’ve enjoyed and that I’ve played all my life,” said Klassen.
“Youth have a lot of energy and this is a way for youth to spend that energy in a positive way.”