TRURO, N.S. – The emergence of rep baseball in Truro has taken the Bluenose provincial league by storm.
The Bearcats’ program is enjoying great success on the field this season with all four local rep teams at, or near, the top of their respective divisions as the boys of summer enter the final month of action on the diamond.
“I think what it tells us is how our grassroots programs, from T-ball to our novice, peewee and bantam house leagues, they’ve gotten to the point now where they’re feeding our rep teams, and the development that’s happening in those house leagues is allowing us to compete provincially,” said Scott MacGillivray, president of the Bible Hill-Truro Minor Baseball Association.
You have to look no further than the Bluenose league standings to get an idea of just how successful Truro teams have been this season.
The U18 AAA Bearcats have been the class of their division with a 9-3-1 record, while the U18 A squad is second in its nine-team division with a 9-4-2 mark. The U11 A Bearcats have also been dominant at 12-1, while the U13 AAA locals are third in their division at 5-5.
“I think the number one thing is we want all of our players to have fun, but we also want to compete at the highest level, and I think if you look at all four of our teams that are playing at the highest level here in Nova Scotia … they’re all competitive and they’re all playing well,” said MacGillivray.
The Greg Marquis-coached U18 AAA Bearcats made history a couple of weeks back by becoming the first Truro midget team to qualify for a national championship. The Bearcats ran the table at the elimination tournament in HRM to punch their ticket to the Canadian championship Aug. 16 to 19 in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“Greg has been working hard with that group for the last 10 years, and to be able to now go off to Fort McMurray, it’s a great way for our association to be represented out there,” said MacGillivray.
Just as rewarding for the association is the resurgence of minor baseball in the area, as more than 400 players and 20 teams make up the BHTMBA. In comparison, about 160 players were registered in 2012.
“There’s not a ballfield in the town of Truro that’s not being used through the week, which is unheard of, and we’re bringing some life back to some of the old ball fields where baseball wasn’t being played on,” said MacGillivray. “And all of our coaches in all of our divisions at all levels have been really active in getting out and wanting to practise with the players and wanting them to work on their fundamentals and improve.”
Several of those coaches are former players, who developed through the ranks themselves and went on to play at the senior level, including Kevin Matheson and Craig Higgins (U13 AAA); Darson Murphy and Jason Hoyt (U11 A); JP Wood (U18 A); and Marquis. MacGillivray praised all the coaches who volunteer their time to help make the association the success it is.
“The time commitment is very extensive,” said MacGillivray, head coach of the U18 A team. “Most all of these teams are usually playing through the week, either in metro or other parts of the province, and having to go on the road, they’re playing weekends in tournaments … some of them don’t have kids on any of those teams so for those guys to be willing to give back to the game is great to see.”
MacGillivary said while the Bearcats program is enjoying great success, the focus continues to be on player development and giving kids an opportunity to succeed in a fun atmosphere.
“We know we have our recreation stream and we have our competitive stream, but in both of those divisions we want our players to be having fun,” he said.
“If they’re not having a good experience then we’re not doing our jobs as coaches or as an executive.”