SUNDRE — Three local squads finished first in their respective events during the recent seventh annual Barrie Michalsky Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament fundraiser.
Hosted in Caroline from Friday, Aug. 13 to Sunday, Aug. 15, the fundraiser made a comeback after being cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, and many Central Alberta teams were clearly eager for their chance to get up to bat and play ball.
“It was a good turnout,” said co-organizer Kailey Fauville, from Caroline, adding there were 16 teams registered and playing on the town’s two ball diamonds.
But given additional space, there would have been even more.
“That’s our max. We had a waiting list of teams, but we could only host 16,” explained Fauville.
The players hailed from Rocky Mountain House, Sundre, Red Deer, Cochrane and of course Caroline as well.
The A event winners were the Reds, from Sundre, with team Undecided, also from Sundre, finishing first in the B event. The Mound Pounders, another Sundre squad, took top spot in the C event, while Caroline’s We Came to Party won the D event final.
The first, second and third place teams in every division claimed bragging rights and also received prizes in the form of swag like team apparel including hoodies, pants and ball caps that were ordered from National Slo-pitch Association Canada, which also provided insurance for the event, said Fauville.
“There were lots of donations this year,” she said, adding the fundraising tournament also features a silent auction and that more than $10,000 ended up being raised.
While that amount was more than the average raised of $7,000 to $10,000, it wasn’t quite a record. However, it was a fairly close runner-up to the inaugural event that had brought in roughly $16,000, she said.
“We choose somewhere different every year,” she said when asked how the funds are distributed.
This year, the organizers decided on purchasing two automated external defibrillators for Caroline School, with the remaining funds earmarked for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, she said.
The memorial fundraiser has been held in honour of Barrie Michalsky, who had played ball in the community for many years since childhood until he passed away from a heart attack, she said.
His daughters, Siera McTaggart and Taylor Larsen, who are also friends of Fauville, co-organized the event over the years with no shortage of support from businesses and residents.
Due to changing life circumstances and busy schedules, the sisters felt the time had come to step back from organizing the annual memorial tournament.
“They wanted to find other ways to give back and take a break. We have decided that it will be our last year of running the Barrie Michalsky memorial,” said Fauville, who still intends to continue organizing other ball tournaments in the community.