You may be surprised to hear this, but covering softball for 10 days can leave a wake. Not for the reasons you’d think, mind you, and I know what you’re thinking. You never head to the park thinking, “I wish this was baseball,” because as the week goes on and on you begin to think, “Thank God this isn’t baseball.”
No politics, but plenty of hot dogs. Smokies, really. There’s cheese and chili, too, and perogies and frozen lemonade. The smell of the ballpark is still there, but the maintenance is gone. It’s like going to a cougar bar with no expectations, and you might just end up having the time of your life.
The athletes are at a range, from pre-teenage to post-university professionals. Club teams mingling with Team Canada.
There’s a certain advantage to each situation, and each bleacher seat. Watching Team USA is a treat, because you feel like you’re watching a live Gatorade commercial, even if those women are no longer technically Olympic athletes.
But, again, that brings it home a little, because it’s just as nice to watch the younger ones play, as well.
What did Benecio del Toro fight for in Traffic? What was his only purpose? So the kids could be safe to play ball, he said. Now, you get it. There’s a bit of comfort in watching the sun goes down as the spotlight stays on… watching the kids round the bases with their arms held high… watching the crowd surprise themselves with how in love with the game they are. There’s a certain satisfaction that you can’t quite put words to, but you know it’s there.
At the Canadian Open – the flagship event of South Surrey’s Softball City – it’s all this and more, even when the crowds don’t come, and that’s occasionally the case, be it rain or conflicting schedules. The sun is so hot, you’d think it’s Arizona, which is fitting since most of these teams look un-Canadian. The whole event becomes the Southwest for a week, and they even have the quesadillas.
Oh, and there are foreigners, too. As for the Australians, you get the best side of them. You get that fun-loving side that everyone adores, but you’re spared of the house music-pumping, ecstasy-popping ones you loath. (You know, I’m generalizing.)
After a week of it, I was full. Now, after four days away, I’m aching for more.
Maybe it’s that it was in my own community. I’ve lived in White Rock since I can remember opening my eyes, even if that included stints in Winnipeg and London, Ontario. The real London. You can’t anywhere in White Rock without driving by Softball City, and seeing that sign that tries to welcome you, because the city revolves around the park, not unlike Vancouver revolves around Stanley or New York does around Central.
For some reason – and you wouldn’t get it if you could see it – Softball City holds a special place in the heart and history of most White Rockers, if that’s the right term for them. It’s just there, which is pretty normal, but it’s always there, which is too special in some ways.
And so, for 10 days, you could fall in love with a sport, or with its participants.
There was the California A’s, the team from Newport Beach that is entirely funded by owner Kathy Miller, the team that donates money from every home run to a girl who became a paraplegic after a snowboard injury, the team that donates even more money from every run to a girl suffering from cancer and chemotherapy treatments, and the team that never lost at this year’s Open, outscoring their opponents 83-4 over an 11-0 record.
“My goal (every year) is to come up to Canada, because I came up here in ’93 and was so impressed with your group and your hospitality and the professionalism of this tournament,” she said. “We were blessed to do your clinic for your Canadian Girls on Monday,” she said. “(Our) girls got more out of it than the little girls did.”
There was Team Canada, I guess, and its youthful core, most notably the newest Washington Husky, Jocelyn Cater, who has been tapped – fairly or rightly – to be the next Danielle Lawrie.
“It’s amazing,” Cater said of the Open. “I played at this tournament first at a club level while I was growing up, and I think I always looked up to Team Canada, Team USA as really big role models, I guess.”
Cater is a phenom, which is evident from the amount of attention she receives at these tournaments, from young fans and adults, alike. The adults are excited for her, a young girl with her head on her shoulders and a future in front of her, while the kids want to be like her. It’s a transition, since they’re not far behind the 17-year-old underarm sensation.
“As one of the younger players, it really helps me to see the younger players now and know exactly how they feel, because I was right in that position.”
White Cover Staff
White Cover Magazine is the "foremost" source for "male" and "female" things in the world today. Kind of. We have Sports. Movies. Arts. (What are Arts?) Television. Music. And, of course, a critical look at everything in the world of Journalism, Sports Journalism, and News at large.
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