Plans of competing against the province's most talented fastpitch teams for another year have been put on hold for members of the Greg Gardner fastpitch squad.
John Stuart, the team's manager, announced Monday (May 3) that several different factors contributed to the team's decision not to compete in the five-team NorWest Senior A Fastpitch League.
The team will still be competing in the Howe Sound Men's Fastpitch League, and will be known as the Greg Gardner Bulls for the 2004 season.
"We've lost a couple of players to Vancouver teams and a couple of players due to injury," said Stuart. "We also really didn't have anyone to take over the organizational and managerial duties, which is quite a lot of work."
Stuart has also been asked to coach the B.C. Junior National Team, another factor which led to the decision. He'll be leading B.C.'s best under-23 junior fastballers on their way to competing in the Canadian Nationals in Scarborough in August.
"It's a great opportunity," he said. "Unfortunately there are no Squamish players on the team but there definitely could have been."
The cost of team travel was also a major contributing factor for the team's withdrawal from the highly competitive NorWest League. Although they did have home games in Squamish, they had to travel often to Prince George, Olympia, Washington and the Lower Mainland to compete.
"The financial cost is overwhelming," said Stuart. "It's a little disappointing but personally I needed a break from it. We'll still be playing here locally in a league that has many A-calibre players on various teams."
Although the Greg Gardner squad competed in the Senior A league for just one year, they showed some huge potential. They finished with a record of 8-8, an excellent record for a new team. Two players from last year's team have gone on to compete with the number-two-ranked team in Canada. Pitcher and outfielder Doug Allen and all-star shortstop Kevin Schellenberg will suit up for the Vancouver Greysox this season. Schellenberg was also a member of last year's Canadian National Fastpitch team.
"The core group of players in Squamish is outstanding - that's why all of the Vancouver teams eat them up," said Stuart. "It was a successful season, and I was very happy with the performance on the field."
The fact that many Lower Mainland teams have gobbled up talented Squamish players doesn't bode so well for the local league however.
"We're in dire need of new young players," he said. "Every team is looking for players."
In the Howe Sound Men's Fastpitch League, five teams will each play 24 games throughout the regular season, which starts on Monday (May 10).
For those interested in playing this season, please contact Doug Allen at 604-898-5943.