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Volunteers: For the love of baseball
Second of three parts
As the kids don their hats and baseball gloves to begin their pre-game warm ups there is a flurry of activity occurring on the in field as a handful of parents run around with rakes and brooms in hand smoothing gravel and sweeping dugouts.
“It takes a lot of effort or a little effort from a lot of people. With baseball it’s getting equipment organized and ordered and making sure teams have enough. As well as field maintenance, in baseball you have to go out there and rake, draw lines, and sweep dugouts,” said Larry Martel, President of the Nelson Little League Baseball Association.
The volunteers of the local association take on many different roles. Some choose to coach a team putting in seven or eight hours a week for a couple of practices and games; while others take up a rake on the maintenance crew to ready the ball diamonds for games and practices.
“I have three young children, and I have a passion for baseball so it made sense to pass on that passion and knowledge,” said Andrew Ens, head coach of the Nelson Tigers.
Ens has been coaching in the Nelson association for the past six years and has found the support and assistance from parents to be instrumental in a team’s success.
“It was huge this year. I had all the parents help I could ask for. It made a huge impact having that much help; we have a really fun team and a great group of parents,” said Ens.
With over 130 kids playing during the summer baseball season Nelson has a strong following.
Parents come to almost every single game to cheer on their children and support the team.
One of the most important jobs a parent has is just getting the kids to the diamond on time said Martel.
Within each team there is a crew of five or six parent volunteers who are responsible for getting emails out to player’s families with game and practice schedules.
As in any sport, the kids taking to the field notice when a parent volunteers their time raking or coaching.
“Seeing their parents are that involved makes it natural. Those kids will be the coaches and field maintenance crews in the future. The parents don’t know what kind of impression that has on the kids — it gives them confidence seeing their mom or dad out there,” said Martel on the impact of volunteering.
Volunteers in any sport don’t give their time for the recognition.
They do it because they want to make a difference and show kids that even though they may not be able to play they can still be there week in and week out.
“I truly believe in setting a good example and being a role model. I’d like to pass those on to the next generation and with that comes respect for the sport and for the people who make it happen,” said Ens.
During the summer evenings at any of the ballparks around Nelson the crack of he baseball bats and the cheers of the players and parents can be heard as the family that is the Nelson Little League Baseball Association comes together to watch some quality baseball.
“The game now is more than a game it’s a culture it’s something we do as a family and we can talk about. We all have a different connection with the game,” said Martel.