TRURO - William MacGillivray is having a blast this summer.
The nine-year-old Truro resident is glad he made the decision to join his friends and sign up to play baseball this season.
"I'm having a lot of fun this year hanging out with my friends and playing baseball," MacGillivray said.
That's the same reason that keeps MacGillivray's Shoppers Drug Mart teammate Mackie Marquis coming back every spring.
"It's fun," said the 11-year-old, who has been playing baseball for five years and is currently in his third season at the mosquito level. "It's all about fun and all about hanging with your friends."
Letting kids have fun at the early levels of the game is the key to survival for the Bible Hill/Truro Minor Baseball Association, says president Curtis Briggs.
"They don't know what they love until they've tried a bunch of different things and if they don't have a positive experience at the lower levels of any sport, they try something else," said Briggs, who is in his first go-around as the association's president.
And trying something else is all too easy nowadays with so many options for extracurricular activities open to kids and their families.
"When we were kids you had two sports," Briggs said. "You had hockey and you had baseball. Now there is taekwondo, there's gymnastics, there's ball hockey, there's lacrosse, there's so much for them to do now.
"A parent that loves volleyball is running a mini volleyball league. I love volleyball and played all through high school, there was no volleyball league when I was 10 years old."
Nonetheless, in spite of all the options, the association is holding steady in the number of players signing up each season. There are 220 kids playing baseball this year, which is about where the figures have been hovering for the past several years.
Those players are divided into four teams at each of the t-ball, novice and mosquito levels and two teams in peewee. The higher age groups are all rep level teams with a bantam AA squad and a midget A and AA team.
Although the association lost a team in the peewee division, it retained 95 per cent of the players eligible to return at that level.
"So in that division it's just a matter of not having enough 98-99 born kids playing baseball," Briggs said.
He credits the stable numbers to the association's ability to provide that crucial experience of having fun early on for its players by doing things like giving all players a freezie after the game.
"I'm preaching to these guys to make the lower levels, the t-ball and the novice and the mosquito as fun as possible," Briggs said. "That's really what it's all about."
Briggs said the association also tries to help kids learn skills quickly so they can start having fun earlier.
"We try to work on skills because if they have success that leads to them having fun," he said. "The skill set in baseball is a little tougher than some sports."
The association does that by hosting clinics, like the one being put on at the TAAC Grounds today, which works on the fundamentals of the game. Briggs also runs pick-up games on occasional Saturday mornings at the Victoria Park field for any players interested.
"The ones that love it just eat it up," he said.
JUST THE FACTS:
Bible Hill/Truro Minor Baseball Association
Coverage area: Colchester County
Divisions: Novice, t-ball, mosquito, peewee, bantam, midget
Teams: Four novice, four t-ball, four mosquito, two peewee, one bantam, two midget