It is hard to believe the NSBA has wrapped up our seventh season as a baseball association and are on the verge of starting our eighth. These years have flown by at breakneck speed and so has this 2023 season. After an incredible Opening Day with dignitaries, players and families, the regular season was underway. Our total number of players has remained strong even with the challenges of pandemic recovery. The NSBA has realised success both on and off the field and this is undoubtedly the reason players return year after year.
In recent years, we have significantly invested in our player and coach development, with Travail and IP coaches providing several thousand professional training hours to our players at all ages, in addition to the countless volunteer hours provided by our wonderful members year after year. I am excited for how our league can continue to grow and evolve in coming years, with the city and district both recognizing the growth in baseball on the North Shore and some potential significant investments coming in baseball infrastructure. Hopefully more to share on this in the coming months!
Now for some divisional updates:
The 5U division kicked off the season with many teams of eager and excited kids. At this age there are many new players. It has been amazing watching these kids develop and it was great to end the year with a Jamboree in June at Cleveland Park including a bouncy castle and glitter tattoos. This great season was made possible by the fantastic coaches and parents who exuded great patience and fostered fun with their players week after week.
The 7U division also had a great season with strong numbers including new and returning players. Our youngest divisions are how we establish a great foundation for our league and we will continue to invest in training for our grassroots players including our popular travail training sessions.
The 9U division had a terrific spring and summer season with 11 teams in the spring and a development team for the summer. Travail came to host a skills-based practice for each team during the spring season and at the end of our season there was a Jamboree, with a base race, throwing relay and a modified home run derby. Prizes were sponsored by Travail Development, Larry’s Sports, Prostock Athletic Supplies and Vancouver Canadians Baseball. Each team received 2 pizzas from Papa Johns and a medal for every player.
The 11U division had a successful 2023 season with 8 teams and over 100 players. We also ran an MSET team for the first time in several years alongside the regular season for the keen players that put in additional practice times and played against various teams in the Lower Mainland. The spring season ended on a high note with 2 weeks of playoff and the championship weekend on June 25. The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks put on a great final show with the Blue Jays winning 7 – 4. It was really exciting to see how far the kids have come since the start of the season. The summer season started immediately following the spring season. We put forth 2 summer teams that continued to practice and played until August.
The 13U division, there was one AAA, one AA and 5 single A teams. This was our second year with a “single season” 13U program from BC Minor Baseball. Many of our 13U teams invited professional coaches to their practices to work on their skill development, with the league providing significant funding to all age groups to support this program. In addition, the AAA, AA, and one A team played in tournaments. An NSBA single A team finished in 1st place in their interlock playoffs.
The 15U division had another successful season with an AAA team, two AA teams and two A teams. Our A teams battled for the division title in our interlock again, while our AAA team qualified for the Baseball BC national qualifier tournament and made a strong showing, defeating several PBL franchises before falling in semi-finals. Congrats to head coach Chris Vaillancourt and the squad for a great showing.
The 18U division had five teams in total this year – three AA teams, one AAA team and our first-ever College Prep team. This year, the AA teams played in the Lower Mainland interlock and one team advanced significantly in the playoffs. Our AAA team captured the first-ever provincial pennant at this level for the association and the College Prep team qualified for the provincial playoffs in its first season! In addition to this, NSBA recognized five graduating players with Nigel Moore scholarships – congratulations to Carter Boyd, Thomas Carrie, Kevin Griffiths, Lucas Klas and Tyler Russell.
The 26U division had their largest roster in several years with 24 players and a wait list. It is a young, developing group with lots of years to grow together. Several players are playing college and university ball throughout Canada and we are excited to see how this group does in the coming years.
None of the achievements this year would be possible without each and every parent and volunteers who support our players. As a community association, we would be lost without you and your hours of support. Next time you are at the field and catch a glimpse of that player with a smile on his face, know that you made this happen.
On behalf of the NSBA Board of Directors, thank you for another wonderful NSBA season and we hope to see you again next season.
Nicholas Van Dyk, President
North Shore Baseball Association