The Pewee AA Ladysmith 49ers capped off an incredible season with a gold medal victory at the Western Canadian Championships in late August.
The 49ers previously succeeded in provincial competition and represented as Team BC at the Western Championships. Throughout their regular season and tournament play, the 49ers lost only three games. Head coach Shawn Freer said that the team had a lot of close games, but came out on top in 37 of 40 games.
Last year, the 49ers were in the single A division. They chose to move up to AA this year, and the results speak for themselves.
“The kids really wanted to put their best foot forward and take on that challenge,” Freer said. “To have this go through, and to win the Western Canadians was really exciting.”
The same group has been playing ball together for three years. After a loss in the provincial final last year, the team was determined to succeed. Freer credited their success to that drive, and that the team has such a tight knit bond.
“They were a really good group of kids. They don’t just meet at the ballpark, they’re all friends on and off the field. It’s partly a small community thing too. They finish playing a game on Sunday afternoon, then an hour or two later there’s half a dozen of the kids playing ball at the park, or in the backyard playing ball. They just love the game, and love to play,” Freer said.
Freer also credited the team parents. He said they went above and beyond in helping with various roles like, fundraising, score keeping, running concessions, and field setup.
Nine of the twelve players are planning to return for another season. They will go up a division to play with Grade 8s and 9s. Three of the twelve are going in to Grade 7 and will remain in their current division. As players age, more options open up for playing ball on Vancouver Island. Freer hopes to keep the team together as much as possible to build on this year’s success.
“It’s kind of what a small community is all about. You always figure that these divisions are setup, and because you have less kids your calibre of ball may not be as high as some of the big associations… I think small communities — and the support from the community — allowed these guys to do what they did,” Freer said.