By Woodard, Dale on March 23, 2020.
Softball Valley is coming to bat for the upcoming mixed slo-pitch season.
That is, if there is in fact a slo-pitch season to be had.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to cast a shadow of uncertainty on recreational sports, Softball Valley is nonetheless gearing up for the mixed slo-pitch season with a new plan and a new name.
The newly-named Lethbridge City Mixed League is quickly filling up and this year a few facet has been added with the hiring of facilitator Ron Lambert.
“We just decided that as Lethbridge Softball we’re going to take it over and hire a facilitator to do the league for us,” said Hank Stoffer, facility manager of Softball Valley. “That’s the way a lot of leagues are going to be going in the future. People aren’t getting the volunteers anymore, so we’re hiring the staff. As our biggest tenant down here we need to be sure we have some control with what’s going on.”
Lambert was hired two weeks ago.
“He’s in the process of getting all the entry forms from the teams and getting new contact information,” said Stoffer. “It’s almost like we’re going to start fresh. Most of the teams we had from last year will still be in. There is always a waiting list to get into that league and we’re kind of hoping that with that we can eliminate the teams that don’t want to behave and follow the rules.”
Lambert will be hands-on in the communication aspect and a presence during game nights.
“During the season he will be on site for a lot of their games to help deal with any issues that come up. We are putting an advisory council in from different players from different divisions to help us if there is a problem within the league. They can step up and say ‘This is the concern we have in this division.’ We want to run it professionally. Softball Valley has a reputation of doing things right from a facility point of view and that’s what we want this league to be. We want it run properly with Softball Valley reputation-wise.
“We do get some funding from the City of Lethbridge to operate this facility and we also want to be more involved with the Lethbridge business community. So teams who are sponsored by local businesses, we want to make sure we get them into the league. We are a big part of the business community.”
The feedback from teams in regards to bringing in a facilitator has been upbeat.
“I don’t think we’ve heard a negative comment at all,” said Stoffer. “Everybody seems to be on board and have no problems signing the codes of conduct. Right now I think we’re up to 65 teams signed up. We usually take 80, so we’re getting to the point where it’s close to full.”
Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc with the season, entry fee money is a concern among the teams.
“We want to know how many teams we have and once we are told we can go ahead with the season then we’ll come around and say we can collect the entry fees,” said Stoffer. “We don’t need to get them right now because if we have to cancel even a month, that’s five games you don’t get to play and that comes right off the top of your entry fee money.”
The start of the slo-pitch season has been postponed in the past, noted Stoffer, but usually it was due to snow or other weather.
Dealing with world-wide virus, however, is a first.
“So depending on how long we have to wait, it’s new for everybody,” said Stoffer.
In keeping with social distancing guidelines laid out in the face of the COVID virus, Softball Valley is going the electronic route for interested teams.
“We’re taking entry forms by email,” said Stoffer. “We were supposed to have a registration weekend (last) weekend for teams to come down and sign up. We cancelled that and left the dropbox outside our gate for teams to drop off the entry form.”
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