On the eve of BC Baseball’s provincial 15U Bantam AAA championships July 27 to 30 at Blundell Park, Richmond City Baseball president John Braaten speaks to the importance of the local association’s multi-faceted mission.
That includes, as part of its player development model, annually submitting to host a provincial championship.
“As our association continues to grow, our belief is to provide opportunities for players to be part of such a special event as this,” he says.
Because a host team is guaranteed a place in the tournament they host, they can focus on developing their skills versus a win-first attitude to qualify, he explains.
Braaten says as part of the Richmond City Baseball Association’s (RCBA) initiative to place greater emphasis on player development, and to provide more opportunities for players wishing that play in a “rep” program, Richmond’s 15U AAA team is directly affiliated with its 15U AA program. The continued goal of this two-team 15U Bantam rep approach is to provide a more focused product, and wider developmental reach.
“Establishing and maintaining a direct relationship between AAA and AA will help first-year players potentially graduate to the AAA program as second-year players,” he says. “In addition, a more performance-oriented AA program will provide a greater developmental platform for second-year players that will aid in their transition from 15U AAA to 18U or College Prep programs.”
The BC Baseball 15U AAA tournament brings together the best 14- and 15-year-old players from across the province to compete for a chance to first become provincial champions, and then to represent BC Baseball at the Diamond Nation 16U Blue Chip Prospects Tournament in Flemington, New Jersey Aug. 7 to 11.
RCBA has a standard “mission/vision statement” to provide quality baseball programs for the children and youth of Richmond, and that each enjoy playing the game.
“I have seen first-hand how sports has affected my life, and now feel a big part of our community and hopefully doing something right for the future,” Braaten says. “RCBA is trying to ‘Build Community,’ which was our opening day theme, and is working with community-based programs such as Touchstone and the City of Richmond’s multicultural services to bring new immigrant families into the sport community.
“The Chucker’s family is growing in a day and age where participation in sports is flat or declining in many areas. Our community branding is important and continuing to focus on delivering quality programs within schools, community centres or free events. In the end if our president’s group gets children engaged and participating in activities—it doesn’t have to be baseball, it can be anything—then we have done our job.”
This weekend’s 15U AAA provincial championships at Blundell Park begin at 10 a.m. Thursday (July 27), with Richmond’s opening game versus Cloverdale at 1 p.m. Tournament play resumes at 9 a.m. Friday, with Richmond taking on Kamloops. The host Chuckers face WestCoast Cardinals in their final pool game at 3 p.m. Saturday. Sunday’s playoff schedule begins at 9 a.m. with the second-place team from Pool B meeting the first-place finisher from Pool A. At 9:15 a.m., the top finishers from Pool B meets the second-place team in Pool A. The tournament championship game is slated for 2 p.m.