Yorkton and Melville senior athletes

I got involved with senior athletics back in 2007. 

At that time the only location in Saskatchewan where rural senior slo-pitch tournaments were taking place was in the Parkland Valley District. Managers such as Eugene Krawetz of Kamsack, Joe Yacyshyn of Preeceville, Jack Jacques of Endeavour, Ed Maga of Swan River, Roger Keller of Canora and Don Rathgeber of Melville all had the foresight to allow a couple of 50 to 55-year-old players to play in the regular 55-plus tournaments. This allowed a feeder system to continue the strength of the sport. To the credit of these gentlemen, the sport of slo-pitch continues in some of these communities, contrary to provincial trends. 

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During these times I always wondered about Yorkton. Where were the senior athletes?  During the height of the “Red-Eye Tournaments” in the 80’s and 90’s, there were as many as 82 teams.  It was generally said that there were no senior slo-pitch players in Yorkton.  Oh well, I was busy playing with Joe’s team from Preeceville, and was always impressed with Melville when team manager, Don Rathgeber, was in his prime. He would drive in with his motor home, play with enthusiasm and always added a few players each year. The other Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association (SSFA) events in Melville were quietly handled by Anita Bella, the Murrays and the Rudoskis at the Senior Centre.

When I took over as the manager of the Assiniboine Aces slo-pitch team, centered out of Preeceville, all seemed good. However, after a few years we needed “new blood” as some of our players were no longer able to play. Where to look?  We were able to pick up a player here and there from several small communities. This was not easy or sustainable. Now what? Ah, those mysterious Yorkton seniors. I was directed to Brad Gall. Oh what a character, it was love at first sight. No, I agree he is not that good looking, but his passion for slo-pitch is inspiring. His wife Robin is the good-looking one and quite frankly, just as inspiring when it comes to the sport. We now have a great contact for ongoing participation of senior slo-pitch players from the Yorkton area.  

As President of the Parkland Valley District of the SSFA, slo-pitch is just one of 16 events we are responsible for. So the search in the Yorkton area continued. Soon we had Dianne Stinka as secretary and her persistence has opened several new events in Yorkton and raised the profile of SSFA. Then came Wayne Clark who volunteered to act as treasurer. I found out he is also involved with tennis, cross country skiing, and whatever else draws his interest.

Then my involvement with that young local lad Taylor Morrison at the Gloria Hayden Centre opened a whole new world with regard to contacts for senior athletes in Yorkton. Seniors in Yorkton are not so secretive anymore. There are a lot of seniors in Yorkton taking part in many different organizations. Many of these seniors can take part in the SSFA events. They just need to be asked to participate.