Under the bright light of a setting sun early Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, a crowd gathered at the Ryan Taylor Field in Woodstock to pay tribute to 13 young baseball players set to embark on a trip they’ll remember all their life. The event also provided a chance for the team to thank the community that supported them.
The U11 Woodstock Shiretowners’ hard work on the diamond delivered a New Brunswick provincial championship and the opportunity to attend the Atlantics in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL.
The generosity of the Carleton County community allowed the team to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them.
Team manager Tamara MacElwain said Tuesday’s event served as a pep rally for the team as it prepared to head off to Newfoundland and Labrador the following day.
“This will be a chance of a lifetime for these guys,” she said.
Tamara and her husband, head coach Dave MacElwain, explained the importance of saying thank you to area businesses and residents whose contributions made the trip possible.
“It’s incredible,” said Tamara. “It’s amazing how generous people have been.”
Following the ceremony and player introductions, the U11 Shiretowners unveiled a banner showcasing the names of donors who combined raised more than $30,000 to sponsor the trip to the Atlantics. Tamara said the team would carry the banner with them to unveil during the tournament.
The pep rally began with the introduction of each player, who ran the base path with individual flair to their chosen musical accompaniment.
Introduced in alphabetical order, Connor Acott set the mood with a swing of an imaginary bat. He pointed to an imaginary ball clearing the outfield fence before his trip around the bases and a dusty slide into home plate.
Each player followed, exhibiting their unique style to the loud cheers of parents, family, baseball fans and supporters.
Following Acott were Liam English, Kale Flemming, Hudson Hovey, Will Ketch, Ben MacElwain, Seth Munro, Sawyer Patterson, Archer Quinn, Elijah Tompkins, Kian Toner and Colton Watson.
Team member Austin Clark missed the pep rally, as he and his family were already on route to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Head coach Dave MacElwain took the mic to praise his team for their dedication and hard work on the diamond, although acknowledging a trip to the Atlantics was not in the plans when the season began.
“But, the kids played great at provincials,” he said.
He thanked the young players for their hard work to get to this point,
“You guys did the job to get here,” Dave said. “I want you to work hard at the Atlantics, but I want you to have fun.”
Dave also thanked his coaching team, which included his father, Dale MacElwain, and Mike Watson.
He praised Tamara and the many parents, family members and others who volunteered time throughout the season.
Dave explained taking a team to the Atlantics in Grand Falls-Windsor is an expensive undertaking, but they are making it happen thanks to the fundraising committee and community support.
“I’m overwhelmed by the fundraising committee,” he said.
He said the committee, composed of a group of players’ mothers, did a great job.
“I learned you just hand the job to the Moms and get out of the way,” Dave said.
He again praised the many individuals and business owners who stepped to the plate with cash donations.
“It’s unreal the support we have in this community,” he said.
The Woodstock U11 Shiretowners will hit the diamonds in Grand Falls-Windsor between Sept. 17 and 19 to face representatives from the other Atlantic provinces.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun