When Edwina Palmer’s daughter was in Grade 5 she came to her mother and asked, “Why can’t we have a school ball team?”
Palmer responded: “You go find enough players and I’ll ask the schools.”
“I had our principal send out an email asking the schools and within 20 minutes I had four schools say yes. We ended up with eight teams that year.
And so began the grammar school softball league, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary in Pictou County.
Palmer’s children have all gone through the program, but she’s remained a fixture, coaching until last year and organizing even still.
During that time she’s seen the program grow. This year they had 10 teams take part with 174 players total in the grammar school level and five more teams playing at the junior high level.
“It is making a bit of a comeback,” she said. “There’s a lot of interest.”
The season typically starts in May and usually lasts about a month depending on the weather, Palmer said. Unfortunately, this year they were unable to hold their final tournament because for the four times they tried to hold it the weather made it so the fields couldn’t be used.
But the students had fun in the games they played and Palmer said there was trouble parking some nights at fields where there were several games happening at the time.
The grammar school ball teams try to offer an opportunity for all to play whether they’ve had experience in the past or not.
What Palmer’s seen is that many of the students who take part end up going on to play for house or rep teams in the summer months.
Danny Richards, president of the Stellarton Stingers, has seen that.
“School ball has introduced so many kids to the sport,” he said. “Quite a few didn’t go through the learn-to-play program so their first taste of ball is at school.
This year for instance they have about 75 U12 kids playing on their teams and he estimates that 95 per cent of them played grammar school ball.
“I get so many comments from parents whose kids love the game and look forward to playing in the summer as well. Our season really starts with school ball. It creates a buzz that carries into the start of house league when school is over.”
From friendship to simply being more active, Palmer believes there are many benefits that come from the school teams and she hopes to see that continue for many more years to come.
“I just like seeing kids play ball or any kind of sport,” she said. “They seem to have fun because they come back every year and the numbers are growing.”