When a community shares a vision, many years of hard work, communication and extensive planning future generations benefit.
Sechelt’s first full size baseball diamond, at Chatelech Secondary School, has been completed through the efforts of many and the driving force of a few.
This Sunday, May 6, the Central Baseball League (CBL) will hold its first official game, a double header starting at 11:30 a.m. This community made it happen and as such the community is welcome to come and enjoy the baseball and a concession donated by the Sechelt Rotary Club and operated by the Sunshine Coast Athletic and Recreation Facilities Society (SCARFS), a new cooperative society with a mandate to assist all Coast recreation groups with advocacy, promotion and administration.
A special ribbon cutting and opening ceremony is at 10 a.m.
To appreciate the magnitude of this accomplishment, one must take a brief moment to understand the five years (or 15-plus depending on what history you’re up on) it has taken to reach this milestone — the $270,000 worth of donations, thousands of volunteer hours, tears, frustration and ultimate elation that went into creating this field as a legacy for the children of the Coast.
In 2007 Norm Blair, then president of the Sunshine Coast Youth Soccer Association (SCYSA) presented “The Dream,” a multi-use outdoor field sports facility as conceptualised by local artist Dean Schutz. It resulted in a letter of support for use of Chat’s surrounding land. Little did SCYSA know, the CBL had been working for 10 years to build a full-size baseball diamond at Connor Park which, for a number of reasons, did not moved forward. An opportunity presented to collaborate, uniting hands and voices. Soon both the SCYSA and CBL came together to build “The Dream” for Chat.
It was simply a letter and a prayer, and a very focused Bob Mercer from CBL.
Mercer and his right-hand man Rod Hamilton must be noted as driving forces behind “The Dream.” During the last three years both have given a considerable portion of their lives to see this new field completed with the utmost of care.
In September 2009, nearly a year after discussions with various stakeholders began, work commenced. Spurred on by a $50,000 donation from the Sunshine Coast Regional District, designated for backstop construction, Mercer shifted into high gear negotiating all aspects of infield construction by pulling together in-kind donations, volunteer hours and expertise.
As they set to move forward the first of many hurdles presented itself. The Chat infield had substantial drainage issues. Cue Alan Hemstreet who stepped in immediately and created a plan. With a request to LaFarge to donate materials answered, Inlet Raider Barges moved materials (a 24-hour expedition) to Porpoise Bay’s Mountain Marine thanks in part to Don MacKenzie who handled the manoeuvring through the Skookumchuck.
Swanson, Wagman and Kennedy Trucking who, in conjunction with Quality Top Soil, delivered materials armed with a Rent-it Canada bobcat and Hamilton’s machine. They spread, filled, compacted and levelled. Hemstreet erected the backstop and created a uniquely beautiful and desperately needed, retaining wall just in time for Gibsons Building Supply to arrive with the donated felt barrier to cover the crush and Jervis Services’ donated wood for the creation of the dugout benches.
So many people volunteered time and equipment to make the infield level and just right. The necessary sprinkler system was donated by Corix, installed by Steve Marsh, helper Kai and Nelson Plumbing fix needed irrigation valves. Finally it was time for turf. Gibsons and Sechelt Rotary Clubs donated funds for the purchase and GBS took care of the delivery. John Gillespie and his crew oversaw the installation of the turf; 20 volunteers spent three days rolling out back breaking flats of sod covering 900 sq metres of infield. Stephanson Bulk Fuels ensured the equipment didn’t quit before the people did, donating fuel.
Fittingly, the last hurdle was recently accomplished by the same organization that spurred “The Dream” — School District No. 46 with the installation of a 70 metre temporary outfield fence, materials supplied by GBS.
Thanks to all, it’s time to officially open. Let’s play some ball!