Last night was truly an exciting evening for our little Baseball Association, and was the culmination of a lot of work during the off-season by our Board of Directors. We wanted to take this opportunity to share information with everyone on what has happened, and maybe more importantly, what the next steps are.
After the season wrapped up, the board began looking at some of our longer term projects on our “it would be awesome to get it done” list. Our goal was to put plans in place and long term goals and fundraising efforts to be able to get these items completed (outside of normal day to day items). These items tend to have significant price tags associated with them, and therefore require planning and foresight to pull them off. At the top of that list was improvements at the Sandarac Diamond Complex (We will share more on that below).
With that list in place, we began looking at how we could possibly fund some of these projects - and that is when we determined we would submit for the Jays Care Foundation Field of Dreams Grant. In all honesty, we as a board felt that this year's submission would be an exercise to learn more about the process and what we would need to accomplish in order to submit a winning bid in the future. That goal changed in December when we were contacted by the Jays Care Foundation that we had been successful in the preliminary submission round, and they would really like us to submit a full proposal for funding consideration.
Then things got really serious. Over the month of January the Board put well over 100 hours into preparing our submission. This required getting updated quotes from suppliers, discussions with the City about the project, including their buy-in and support for the project, and compilation of data required for the Jays Care Foundation evaluation committee. While everyone played a role in putting things together, I would like to call out a couple of people specifically. Danya Tesarski, the Association Secretary, was instrumental in ensuring we kept on task and organized in preparing our submission. Layne Greenway (our Treasurer) spent significant time assisting in preparation of all the financial information that they needed. And Elaine Wong-West (Our Marketing Volunteer) volunteered significant time preparing very professional and custom graphics for our proposal that really helped us stand out from the crowd! (And she dealt with my nit-picking…) The rest of the Board also provided valuable insight, and more importantly helped out with our normal off-season planning for our baseball season, which allowed me personally to focus on this proposal.
So after we submitted our proposal it was all wait and see… until about 2 weeks ago. Danya and I received a phone call from the Jays Care Foundation informing us that we had been chosen, but that we needed to keep radio silence on this to allow them to announce the Grant Awards publicly on a Jays Broadcast on Sportsnet. I can tell you that this has been the hardest 2 weeks to not be able to tell anyone - we couldn’t even tell the rest of the Board! So we organized a watch party last for last night telling everyone to keep their fingers crossed for us - and everyone who could make it was there when they announced we had “won” - and all I will say is that seeing the excitement in my living room, and subsequently all the comments on our social media channels last night were well worth the wait!
So why did we choose Sandarac Diamonds? With 3 diamonds there it has a project scope and size that is daunting to accomplish with traditional fundraising. The full project scope is in the six-figure range. It also is our cornerstone diamonds for the largest age brackets, which will allow us to ensure the widest range of kids will get access to the improvements. We also use these diamonds to host tournaments and other associations for Minors and Majors - and these improvements will make this the premier diamond complex in the North part of Calgary.
So what are our plans? We looked at the Sandarac Diamond complex and realized we had several needs we wanted to address. First off we will be covering all of the dugouts there, to increase safety for the players on the field. We are working with the City to put warning tracks in on those diamonds in some fashion. We will also be putting fence cap along the lower fences to protect both players and fans from the top of the chain link fence.
In addition to the Jays Care funded portion of the project - there are a few additional items we are undertaking. We will also be installing safer foul poles on the 3 diamonds. There is also an improvement project for the batting cage on site - where we will be repairing the batting cage, and installing turf in the cage to improve the safety and sight of the batting cage. We were able to secure a Capital Conservation Grant from the City of Calgary that covers approximately 75% of the Batting Cage renovation - so we would like to thank the City for that support.
We have also applied for a Field Improvement Grant from Little League Alberta which, should we be successful, will help to fund some of the additional items on our wish list for Sandarac. It is important to note that over 95% of this project will be funded from grants, donations in kind, and outside support. This allows us to keep our regular fundraising efforts directed towards the kids and their teams!
We will also be adding a storage shed (Sea-Can) onsite at Sandarac to help store field equipment on site! The City has approved this project as well, and we will work towards that as part of this Jays Care Project.
Our next steps are to begin the process of securing the development permits from the City, work with potential suppliers and contractors to secure the best pricing and service (and stretch these funds as far as we can) and begin planning out these improvements at Sandarac. This may require some re-configuring of our existing schedule as released - but we will communicate that on an as needed basis. Also know that we will be using this large scale project to plan out improvements at additional diamonds over the coming years. With the 3 diamonds at Sandarac this project is much larger in scale and scope than any other project we have. It also allows us to have our showcase diamonds for tournaments, etc.. at the most age groups (From T-ball right up to Intermediate)! We are working on some big events for Sandarac over the next few months to showcase both the Diamonds and Centennial Little League - so keep watching our Social Media channels or details on both the project and upcoming events!
We would like to make 1 request - if there is anyone out there who would be willing to help with project management on this project, please email me at President@cllbaseball.ca.
If anyone has any questions or comments, please find me out at the diamonds over the next few weeks (when we have finished with our Slow-release Natural Over Watering program… also known as S.N.O.W) and lets chat!
Thank you everyone for your support - and we look forward to an amazing 2022 Season!
President - Centennial Little League