INNISFAIL – The town’s minor baseball community has just received a perfect and timely shot of good fortune.
It was served up by the Rotary Club of Innisfail. And it was followed up by 150 golfers at the Innisfail Golf Club.
The local Rotary club hosted its 35th Innisfail Rotary Charity Golf Classic on Sept. 8.
This year’s fundraising project from Rotary’s golf classic was the Diamond #7 upgrade near the Arena, a project that will give Innisfail a premier ball facility that will be the envy of the region.
James O'Dwyer, a Rotary member and chair of the tourney’s organizing committee said the event attracted about 35 sponsors. As for how the game was played, it was Texas scramble; hit the ball off the tee, take the best shot from all four golfers and then move on. Simple, but great fun and fellowship for all, and there were plenty of prizes after for many participants.
O’Dwyer said Rotary is always looking for community-based projects it can help support. He said with Diamond #7 already under construction, along with current fundraising efforts being made by the Innisfail Minor Ball Association (IMBA) and the Innisfail Community Facility Enhancement Association (ICFEA), it was a “no-brainer” for the service club to offer its support to the project.
“The support from the community for this tournament has been overwhelming. Obviously, the ball diamond is close to the hearts of a lot of Innisfailians,” said O'Dwyer. “There are a lot of baseball alumni here that played ball while growing up in this town, and a lot of them have their own kids growing up and playing baseball.
“The project is obviously a great addition but the nice thing is that this is going to be the premier diamond for Innisfail,” he added. “All of the other diamonds are going to be great but this is going to be our flag ship.”
This year is also the 65th anniversary for Rotary serving Innisfail, as noted by newly appointed president Tammy Thompson.
“I think this was a much-needed project. They (IMBA) definitely needed the facility,” said Thompson. “The benefit of having this is that they will be able to host provincial championships, and those other kind of tournaments, which will bring people to our community and see what a wonderful area we live in.”
Murray Reay, president of the IMBA, said construction of the upgraded Diamond #7, which began last June, is meeting scheduled timelines with irrigation measures completed and new sod put in last week.
“I think we will be playing on it probably by late summer of next year,” said Reay.
He added there has been a positive response from the community for the project.
“We are getting lots of donations and interest. It’s been really good,” said Reay, who’s optimistic for the future of minor baseball in town. “A provincial championship brings eight outside teams, and the westerns bring in (people) from all over western Canada."
Jenny Crumley, president of the ICFEA, said the project started strong in the community and is now gaining new momentum.
“And now that the community sees there is progress on the diamond, they are getting way more involved than they were before,” said Crumley.
The budget for the project is about $500,000, with half of it coming from the Town of Innisfail. Crumley said her organization is still a “little ways away” to meeting their fundraising goal but are always looking for donations.
“But we are still hoping to have it completed next year through grants, donations or whatever other things we can apply for,” she said, adding her group is optimistic every project goal, including funding and timelines, will be met.
For more on the Diamond #7 project go to the Innisfail Community Facility Enhancement Association Facebook page.