The Sandarac Baseball Diamonds in northwest Calgary were buzzing with activity Sunday afternoon when a first-time girls baseball camp hit a home run.
The Calgary Chapter of Girls with Game, a Canada-wide little league initiative, held its first one-day baseball camp for girls ages four to 16.
Hilda Siemens, an organizer of the event, said they didn’t expect such a large turnout.
“We were honestly hoping for about 50 girls and we have over 100 here. But we only have [wanted to] keep it as wide open and accessible to all [as possible].”
One of the goals of the day camp is to get girls excited about baseball and encourage them to stick with it. According to Siemens, girls often start playing softball or fast pitch at a certain age.
“Softball is wonderful, but I just don’t agree that girls need to be pushed [into it]. If they want to play baseball, let them play baseball and let’s create opportunities for them to play baseball.”
Siemens added that the group made a conscious decision about the coaches they chose to run the event and chose an all-female roster made up mostly of players from Team Alberta.
18-year-old Calgarian Tyra Stanich is one of them. In addition to being on the Team Alberta roster, Stanich also plays for the Chestermere Crushers. She’s the only girl on the team.
“Oh me boss [the boys] around,” Stanich said. “It’s pretty fun.”
Stanich said she thinks the camp is crucial to supporting female baseball players, especially younger girls. She added that due to the lack of city and provincial women’s baseball leagues, girls who want to stay in the sport often play on boys’ teams, as she does now.
“I knew when I was younger that I was better than half the guys, but as you get older they start to grow up and they treat you differently and that kind of sucks.”
She said she would love to see a women’s baseball league in Calgary in the future.
“If we had enough girls [at the camp] we could definitely do a girls’ baseball league.”
For Kyla Hiebert’s seven-year-old daughter, Raya, camp is a chance to have fun and meet other girls who are interested in baseball like her.
“I just think it’s great to encourage young girls to stay in the sport,” Kyla said.
“When I read the statistics of how many girls drop out compared to boys, I think it’s really great to have more camaraderie [other] athletic girls and female role models.”
As for Raya? She said her favorite part of the day is hitting.