When Peter Ross was five years old, his father Ian pitched him his first baseball — and to his delight, he hit it.
“He just loved playing the game. The look on a kid's face when they hit a ball for the first time is just totally priceless,” said Ian, a Victoria resident. “There's that feeling that they get, there's something primeval about hitting a baseball with a bat that kids really respond to and they just have a lot of fun.”
Shortly after, Ian and his wife Karen enrolled Peter to play with the National Little League, the oldest little league in the city.
For the last six years, the family has driven their sons (their youngest Liam, seven, also plays) to practice and for games at Jerry Hale Park on the corner of Cook Street and Hillside Avenue and Oaklands Park between Ryan Street and Kings Road.
Despite having the opportunity to try several other sports, the family decided baseball allowed them to get involved in the community, get to know their neighbours and stay active.
For Ian, returning to the field has come full circle.
He played baseball with the league for eight years when he was young and is now one of the major coaches and the vice president of mini minor with the little league.
“A lot of people in Victoria have some kind of connection to the park,” Ian said. “Organized sports helps kids with their self-confidence and learning how to work with other people towards a common goal is a life skill.”
This season, the little league is looking to increase enrolment to 200 members, from 115 the previous season. It recently launched a new website, in which registration is now available online. The City of Victoria recently completed upgrades to the infield at Jerry Hale Park, and has added a number of new board members.
There are six programs and 12 teams (as of last year), including t-ball for kids aged five to six, mini and rookie minors for ages seven to eight, minors for kids nine to 10, and majors for ages 11 to 12.
“It's definitely all about the kids. We're not competitive, we're all about the fun,” said Tina Randall, president of the little league, who has a son and daughter who play baseball in the league. “We embrace every kid from every background and we don't care what their skill levels are.”
For more information visit nationallittleleague.org.