OTTAWA, ON – When people think of women’s baseball, most people think of players like Lauren Bay and Danielle Lawrie who are members of the Canadian Women’s Softball Team. But women’s baseball in Canada is continually growing and there is no better example of that than what is happening in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia.
This small community outside of Halifax has grown the girl’s game at an outstanding rate. In the last year alone, the Hammonds Plains Baseball Association has gone from 36 girls registered to 81. The association was able to put together a girl’s t-ball team, two rookie level teams and two mosquito level teams.
Holly Lapierre, the association’s President, has put it to herself and has worked tirelessly to improve the women’s game in her community.
“Last year I had six girls in mosquito, this year I have 33 and a lot of it is because they would go back to school and tell their friends,” says Lapierre.
When Lapierre took over as the President of the Hammonds Plains association four years ago, there were 186 kids registered. This season that number has grown to 416. A major reason why she has been able to grow her registration numbers in such a fashion is her focus on getting more girls involved in baseball.
“Last year, of the 36 girls we had registered, 22 were at the rookie level. So we decided to make an experimental all-girls team that played with the boys,” says Lapierre. “The girls had such an amazing time and some of the parents came up to me and asked if I would do this again next year and I said ‘why wouldn’t I?’”
“We wanted to make sure however that we gave them a choice,” adds Lapierre. “We didn’t want to tell these girls that they had to play here or they had to play there and a lot of parents contacted me and said thanks for letting my daughter decide.”
Girls make up for nearly 20 percent of registered players in Hammonds Plains while the national average is at approximately 10 percent. Lapierre credits the fact that she gave parents an alternative option.
“You need to have a girls program to keep them involved,” says Lapierre. “If associations don’t say yes we’re going to have a girls program, then you lose people right at registration.”
Lapierre’s emphasis on girls’ baseball in her region can be summed up in the upcoming All-Girls Day in Baseball where they plan on having exhibition games involving all the girls in the Hammonds Plains association as well as clinics, possibly featuring members of the Canadian Women’s National Team.
The girls’ program has also been embraced by the parents just by way of their involvement.
“Usually I give the coaches a gray t-shirt that says coach on the back, but I had a girls’ t-ball team that had hot pink shirts and the coaches insisted that they have the same colour as the girls. So now I have two grown men in hot pink t-shirts along with the girls.”
But the parents’ involvement is more than just matching the girls’ wardrobe, mosquito AAA and pee-wee AAA coaches have offered their services to help with practices and Lapierre has hired two summer students as a resource for parents to work with the girls. The association’s president sees the fruits of her labour on a daily basis.
“Last year we handed out pink A’s hats for the girls and I see them with it all the time. I’ll be at the grocery store and I’ll them with their hat on. Then what will happen is other girls will see that and want to know how to get one and they’ll come and register. I had four girls register late because their friends were telling them what they were doing this summer (playing baseball).”
At the end of the day, it’s all about growing the girls’ game and the Hammonds Plains Baseball Association is setting a fine example for the rest of the country.