OTTAWA- If you were wandering around ballparks in Sherwood Park, Alberta in early June, you may have noticed a distinct colour change in the people normally dressed in blue calling balls and strikes at a baseball game. That’s because the umpires at the annual Dave "DOC" Plotsky Memorial Tournament in Sherwood Park were wearing yellow, the official colour of KidSport, an organization that ‘removes financial barriers that prevent kids from playing organized sport.’
Back in March the Baseball Canada Umpires Committee launched an initiative where every umpire in Canada would be asked to donate one game fee to support a great cause in KidSport. Sherwood Park Minor Baseball decided to take the initiative a step further and implement this same principle into the ‘DOC’ tournament which features over 50 teams and umpires.
“It went extremely well,” said Rick Burns, Umpire Director of the Sherwood Park Minor Baseball Association. “We had umpires from 13-70 years of age donate at least one game fee, some umpires even donated all of their game fees.”
In many cases, a seasoned umpire was working with an umpire that is relatively new to the craft, but the idea behind donating was mutual.
“A number of the younger umpires were asking how much they should donate,” explained Burns. “Our answer to them was to donate whatever amount they wanted.”
The total amount raised turned out to be $2275 with nearly all 50 umpires donating money. The awareness of KidSport and the partnership with the Baseball Canada Umpires Committee was on full display as umpires wore yellow KidSport t-shirts instead of the normal umpire jersey’s while working games. Adding to the profile of the initiative was KidSport’s Alberta chapter, who set-up a booth at the ballpark to raise awareness about the program and to join in the festivities.
“At the booth we had general program information about KidSport Alberta and also about the initiative with the umpires,” explained Carole Holt, Executive Director of KidSport Alberta. “It was fantastic, because a lot of people were asking why the umpires were wearing yellow, so we were able to explain the initiative and provide them with the link between the two organizations.”
The weather in Sherwood Park was not necessarily conducive to baseball, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the folks from KidSport or the umpires on hand.
“I think the umpires at the tournament were able to connect with the initiative,” added Holt. “I heard that almost 90% had donated by Saturday morning which shows what kind of people they are.”
Since the success of the ‘DOC’ in Sherwood Park and the positive reception the initiative has garnered so far, plans are underway to have a KidSport presence at similar events.
“Hopefully we can get more events like this going in other parts of the province,” said Holt.
It would also be great to get more events like these organized throughout the country, after all, it doesn’t matter how much you donate according to Holt, any amount that you do donate is what matters most.
“It would be great to look back and say, 100% of the umpires across Canada made a contribution to KidSport.”
To find out more about KidSport and to donate to this fantastic initiative, please click HERE.