It was a home run for Salmon Arm and Salmon Arm Minor Baseball.
As young baseball players practised in one of the nearby diamonds, a small crowd gathered at the north end of Klahani Park Thursday evening, Sept. 9, for the official grand opening of the new double-lane SASCU Batting Cage.
Prior to a ceremonial ribbon cutting, Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association (SAMBA) President Chad Giesbrecht attempted to thank everyone on the long list of businesses, business owners, volunteers and others whose contributions and commitment helped to finally make the project a reality.
Referring to Salmon Arm’s tight-knit and supportive baseball community, Giesbrecht shared an anecdote about a SAMBA member’s young son, who stepped up to the plate with his own donation to support the project after hearing his parents discussing the challenges around fundraising.
“Her son… heard them talking and he got up from the dinner table, went to his piggy bank or his wallet or whatever it was, grabbed $10 from his wallet and said I want to donate this for the batting cage because I know you guys need it. That sums up Salmon Arm and this baseball community. It’s just awesome everybody that’s donated.”
The project was first brought to the City of Salmon Arm’s attention by Scott Steward and Mark Dellman years ago and while it was supported, it wasn’t financially feasible at the time. In 2019, SAMBA secretary Lori Deisroth took the reigns and presented a number of options to the SAMBA board so it could move forward. While efforts were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SASCU and other sponsors came on board with the project to get it done. In all, SAMBA was able to secure close to $50,000 in donations in both cash and services from the community.
Giesbrecht offered special thanks to Deisroth for her work behind the scenes, and SAMBA fields manager and coach Sean Weissenborn and his sons Wyatt and Drake for organizing the labour and putting in hundreds of hours of their own to get the cage built and ready. Clint Harrison was also recognized for being instrumental to the construction.
“We owe you the biggest thanks for what happened here,” said Giesbrecht.
SASCU vice president Julie Langham Wall and financial planner Pete Deisroth were on hand for the occasion, both stressing the community effort that went into the SASCU Batting Cage.
“We understand that it takes a village to raise a batting cage…,” commented Deisroth.
The City of Salmon Arm was represented too, with Mayor Alan Harrison and Couns. Debbie Cannon and Sylvia Lindgren present.
“When you look at the list of all the sponsors, not just SASCU but the long list of sponsors, so many of those people have kids in the sport, or their family was involved in the sport many years ago, so I think this is an amazing accomplishment and I’m pretty excited for minor ball,” said Cannon.
Harrison credited all the work done by the community leaders involved in the effort, and said the batting cage was an easy project for the city and council to get behind.
“It’s hard not to support something that’s so wonderful…,” said Harrison.
After the speeches, several young ballplayers who were patiently waiting to try out the batting cage finally got their chance. Among them was Sean’s son, Wyatt Weissenborn.
“This is one of the greatest things that will ever happen in Salmon Arm,” said Sean. “It will bring kids out, make them get interested in baseball, interested in all sports. It’s very good to have this here and I’m very proud of Salmon Arm for doing this. Especially Salmon Arm Minor Baseball. It’s awesome.”
The batting cage can accommodate two batters at a time for live pitching or with pitching machines, or eight batters for soft toss.
Bookings can be made via the Salmon Arm Recreation Society.
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