The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Terry Frey
Posted: 05/8/2017 6:50 AM
Hitting historically high numbers this year, the Carillon Minor Baseball Association (CMBA) have taken to the diamonds across the region in the past week as another minor baseball season is underway.
The league has definitely been trending upwards in recent years, highlighted by being the named the Region of the Year by Baseball Manitoba in both 2014 and 2015.
Carillon has been setting a record pace when it comes to the amount of players participating in the sport, and this year is no different. Player enrollment is up about 10 % this year, following a whopping 25 % increase last season. In all, the league has doubled in size since 2013.
The community seeing the largest growth this season is in Steinbach. As a result the four Steinbach mosquito teams are playing their home games in Friedensfeld this year as the availability of diamonds in several communities is becoming an issue due to the tremendous growth, which has seen overall numbers in the CMBA grow to about 1,100 players.
Although strong growth such as this is a good thing, it also brings about some challenges as well. The majority of the communities in the region have hit the capacity they can offer due to the facilities available. This affects practices and ultimately the amount of teams a community can offer.
"Hopefully, recreational infrastructure discussions, in particular baseball/softball facilities are taking place at the municipal level in all communities in our region," says CMBA co-president Alex Grenier, "the majority of the region is beyond capacity and with baseball and softball continuing to grow, I am not sure where the teams will play."
Grenier says many teams are using schoolyards and public parks that are not maintained at a level for baseball to be played in a safe manner.
Another area that the CMBA has been a provincial leader in is the development of high performance programs. The region was the first to start a 13U regional developmental team four years ago. This past winter the CMBA lobbied Baseball Manitoba to create an event for developmental teams to play in and to promote interest from other regions around the province.
The governing body agreed and this summer Carillon will host the first 13U Prospects Showcase, July 21-23 in Steinbach, which will include regional teams from across the province. "I have seen the benefit of the developmental teams, both from a skills perspective and relationship building for kids from different communities, "said Joel Hartung, who will be the convenor for the Showcase and a coach of one of the Carillon teams.
The Carillon AAA programs have seen increased success the past few seasons due to these developmental programs, which included Eastman winning gold in baseball right here at the Manitoba Summer Games in August.
High quality coaching has been a major factor in the success of the ‘AAA’ programs. Coaches at the different levels of ‘AAA’ teams this year include Jamieson Krentz, Nick Grenier, Cody Bartel, Troy Blad and Mike Gershman, who all made their mark playing for Carillon teams in the past.
"To have these young, high level athletes willing to coach and share their knowledge and understanding of the game with the kids is outstanding for the program, "said CMBA co-president Louis Cote. "Giving back to the sport that gave you opportunities in life is so important, it is great to see these guys follow through on that."
The Carillon region will be hosting two provincial championships this year, including the Bantam ‘A’ provincials, July 7-9 at Ile des Chenes, and the Bantam ‘AA’ provincials, July 14-16 at La Broquerie. In addition the Western Canadian Midget AAA championships will be held Aug. 11-13 at Ile des Chenes.
There are a record 124 teams competing in the CMBA this year, including 50 Grand Slam teams, 28 Mosquito, 24 Pee Wee, 15 Bantam and seven Midget teams, as well as Rally Cap.
Fourteen communities in the region have teams in the CMBA, including: Beausejour, Blumenort, Grunthal, Kleefeld, La Broquerie, Lac du Bonnet, Landmark, Mitchell, Niverville, Seine River (Ile des Chenes), St. Malo, Steinbach, Vassar and Vita.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League released its 2017-18 regular season schedule earlier this week and at first glance seems to be a favourable one for the Steinbach Pistons.
Although there is give and take, and positives and negatives to any schedule, ...
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