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Baseball festival aims to inspire Kamloops girls to pick up a bat

It'll include a visit by players from Canada's national team
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Friday Girls Camp
A look at one of KMBA's Friday night all-girls practices. (via Stacy Matkowski)

Coming off their first year of girls-only programming, Kamloops Minor Baseball Association (KMBA) is looking to keep the momentum going by teaming up with Baseball B.C. to host a local Girl's Day Baseball Festival on June 9.

"The idea behind it is to introduce the sport of baseball to girls in a fun and safe environment where they can develop new skills and build confidence," says Stacey Matkowski, KMBA treasurer. "They'll have female mentors from Team Canada and Team BC, along with Baseball B.C. coaches coming out to work with these girls to provide a fun experience for them. Our goal is to promote baseball as a lifelong sport whether just for fun or at a competitive level. Either way it allows the girls to stay healthy and active."

One of the ideas KMBA had after seeing an "overflow of registrations" for girls-only winter ball sessions in January was to reach out to Baseball B.C. about hosting a festival.

"We were surprised at how many had signed up that had never played before," says Matkowski. "That kind of got us thinking, what do we offer here? What are we missing here? There are lots of girls here interested in the sport, but not a lot signed up for the regular season, why is that?"

That also led to the creation of their Friday night all-girls practices: a six-week program that provided over an hour of instruction for girls born anywhere from 2000 to 2013. Around 40 kids registered and the sessions will conclude this weekend, rather good timing as the women from the national team that will be at Saturday's festival may also make an appearance on Friday night. That includes players like Amanda Asay, Jennifer Gilroy, and Niki Boyd, and coaches Stacy Fournier and Scott MacKenzie.   

Friday night's practice is only for the girls that registered for the program, but Saturday's festival is a free, all-ages event open to anyone in the Interior. Matkowski said about 30 girls are registered so far, coming from as far as Salmon Arm and Barriere. The festival starts at 10 a.m. at Norbrock Stadium.

Then after that Baseball B.C. will also holding an ID Camp to find potential players for Team BC at the 14U, 16U, 21U or Women's divisions.

"KMBA is very proud to support girls baseball programming from the grassroots to high performance," says KMBA President Chris Balison in a release.

Combined with the success of the Pink Panthers, KMBA"s first all-girls team, Matkowski says the eventual goal is to generate enough interest to have a girls-only division down the line.

To register for the festival or ID camp, visit HERE.




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