Challenger Jamboree a big hit
Tsawwassen Baseball pulls community together to host over 500 children
It was the most successful sports event in the long history of Winskill Park and it had nothing to do with winning provincial championships or personal glory.
The B.C. Challenger Jamboree brought 41 teams and over 500 athletes from across the province to the Tsawwassen venue last Saturday. Another 400 or so amazing volunteers made it all possible.
Challenger Baseball provides children with cognitive or physical disabilities the opportunity to enjoy playing the game and be part of a team environment at a level structured to their abilities. The emphasis is on fun with no scores being kept. A “Big Buddy” system sees each player partnered up with a volunteer.
The program’s structure was established by Challenger Baseball Canada, with partnership from several organizations including Baseball Canada, the Jays Care Foundation and Sport Canada.
It was three years ago when the Tsawwassen Amateur Baseball Association (TABA) launched the first-ever team in South Delta.
Cameron Bancroft was serving as TABA president at the time and was convinced to take the program on after meeting with Ian McLean, the national coordinator for Challenger Baseball. He eventually teamed up with Fred Bonn to coordinate the TABA program.
“All I did was read an email that said the program was available. At the time I realized we didn’t have this in (Tsawwassen or Ladner) and I felt I needed to go listen about this,” recalled Bancroft. “Ian made me believe in this program and gave me a checklist to get it started. When they say grassroots, it truly is the meaning of grassroots.”
With the TABA Challenger Baseball team up-and-running, Bancroft saw an opportunity to step up even further and take on the annual provincial jamboreee, especially with his hometown’s MP being the Minster of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
“Right around the time we got this going, Carla (Qualtrough) was elected. I thought this was perfect. It was meant to happen,” continued Bancroft. "Wouldn’t it be great if we could host the (B.C. Challenger Jamboree) and show how our community cares about inclusion, accessibility and diversity.
“I have lived here for 12 years, having coached and taught, and have had nothing but people wanting to help. It really is a wonderful community where people do believe in service before self.”
Sure enough, Bancroft wouldn’t be disappointed.
Businesses and individuals stepped up in a big way to make the event possible.
Tsawwassen and Ladner McDonald’s franchise owner Steve Krawchuk, a supporter of Challenger Baseball since the South Delta team started, was more than happy to be the Jamboree’s title sponsor.
Volunteers were required for just about everything as all of Winskill’s playing fields were utilized, complete with 14 ball diamonds and a centre stage entertainment area. The closing ceremonies included Qualtrough and Man in Motion hero Rick Hansen.
The South Delta Challenger Baseball season concludes this weekend.
“We have 12 kids participating which is double from a year ago,” added Bancroft. “There’s lots of opportunity for growth. We invite people to come down and look to see if it’s great for them and their child.”
For more information visit the Tsawwassen Amateur Baseball website at tsawwassenbaseball.ca.