While most people sip on hot chocolate and wait for the ice and snow of winter to clear, the women of Sylvan Lake Minor Baseball Associations Fastball divisions are at the multi-gym of Ecole Fox Run/ Ecole Mother Teresa practising their swings in order to bat in some runs come the summer time.
“We have been running a fastball winter workout program for the U18 to U10 girls in SLMBA,” Organizer Leeanne Willoughby said. “It started in October 2016 and will go till the end of March when the regular season coaches will take over on their coaching sessions.”
The program as been running every two weeks throughout the entire winter and multiple clinics help the fastballers focus on the fundamental skills of the game.
“The program runs every two weeks for two hour sessions,” Willoughby said. “We have since added another hour long program after the workout for pitching and catching clinics.”
The program is intended to grow the sport of fastball in Sylvan Lake and with 50 girls registered, it would appear they that SLMBA is achieving that lofty goal.
“We are trying to grow the game in Sylvan Lake for girls fastball,” Willoughby said. “We run this program under the name 220 Fastball.”
The program would not be as successful in its first year without the help of many people, including a sponsor that help repair the pitching machine.
“We would like to thank AC Pump & Motor Inc. of Sylvan Lake for sponsoring/donating their time with our pitching machine repairs,” Willoughby said. Without them our batting sessions would not be and a thank you SLMBA for sharing some of the equipment with us.”
She added that the Town of Sylvan Lake also helped them with their gym rentals.
“I wanted to get some recognition that did the pitching machine repairs so that we could do some batting practise in the gym,” she said.
The game of fastball has showed very rapid popularity in Sylvan Lake.
“We noticed a big jump last year and we want to continue on that,” she said. It was weak prior to that but we have 50 girls registered and there are only 4-5 teams in the womens’ fastball – meaning the majority of last years players are coming out.”
With more players, individual development has also grown.
“The skills are developing – especially for the younger ones,” she said. “We are really working on ball play with them.”
Once the season is completed, the players will go their regular teams prepared for successful seasons
“Those coaches will likely do their own indoor practices in April because generally we never have the weather for outside in the Spring,” she said
So far, feedback from coaches, players and families has been streaming in.
“We have had lots of positive feedback from the coaches,” she said. “We are very proud of this program as Sylvan Lake has never had it in the years I have lived here. My husband [Jason] and I and another couple [Kelly & Andrea Ulseth] have spent a lot of time and energy on developing this program.”
She added “we hope to get more girls next year for next year.”
“Being this our first year we know what more we could do to improve next year. We have had a lot of positive feedback from parents and girls,” she said.