The Sylvan Lake U19 Storm stared adversity in the face and came out as provincial champions.
The U19 group won gold at provincials on July 16 and were one of three teams from town to capture a medal.
The U13 and U17 teams also brought home bronze medals.
For the U19 Sylvan Lake Storm, the journey to winning gold in Blackfalds wasn’t an easy one.
“We started off this season not even sure if we were going to have a team just based on our numbers and who was going to return,” U19 coach Brad Anderson said.
”Once we got the numbers throughout the year we started to get stronger and started to become more cohesive and before you know it we were stringing a couple of wins together and we peaked at just the right time.”
The U19 group won gold with a 4-1 victory over Stettler in the final.
“When the team was presented with the gold medal there were a lot of smiling faces and just the look of satisfaction that their hard work paid off and their positivity and their mindset went a long way for them,” Anderson said.
Getting to the gold also wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the many volunteers who assisted the team, he added.
“There have been a lot of hardworking volunteers who helped to make sure that schedules were out and that all the teams have everything they need to be successful as far as appointments and anything else.”
For the U13 and U17 teams that won bronze medals in each of their provincial tournaments in Calgary and Lloydminster respectively, they also had a tough journey to win a medal.
“So we only had 11 girls sign up this year for our team so we didn’t have tryouts. We also had all first-year players and no second years, so when you have all first-year players that is definitely a disadvantage so for us to get to provincials and win a bronze medal through that is a very exceptional thing,” Andrea Ulseth said about the U17 team.
“The final game for the team was a very close game which was back and forth and the kids battled. They were really down after losing the semi-final game and they came back and battled really really hard and their bats carried them through,” U13 coach Jon Zayak said.
The experience of provincials which for many of the girls was their first time was life-changing, Zayak added.
“We were tied in a game going into our last inning and one of our girls that was struggling a little bit hit a walk-off home run out of the park and it was just life-changing.”
None of the medal wins would have been possible without the hard work of parents, family, friends, community members and members of Sylvan Lake Minor Ball.
“During provincials, it was just an all-around team effort from the parents to the coaches to the players and we couldn’t of done it without everybody helping out to get to our end goal of getting a medal,” Zayak said.
“Sylvan Lake minor ball has always been a great supporter of us we appreciate them, we also appreciate all the sponsorship we’ve had over the years and of course we had great support in our parent group this year. The coaching staff Aaron Clements, Dunkin Labelle, and Kelly Ulseth were also incredible and really good at helping the girls,” Ulseth said.
More information about the teams is available to view on the Sylvan Lake Minor Ball Facebook page.