When the Canada Cup begins later this month, there will be dozens of volunteers and organizers roaming the diamonds at Softball City, but there will be a few important people missing.
Since the last time the fastpitch tournament was held, in 2019 – the last two events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – a few people important to the operation have passed away: tournament founder Glen Todd, who died in March; former transportation supervisor Frank Demaris, who passed away from congestive heart failure in February at the age of 92; Zeone Andrijaszyn – who was a longtime tournament volunteer and also the vice-president of finance for Softball BC – as well as Craig Donaldson, whom Canada Cup chair Greg Timm noted was also a tournament volunteer.
All four will be honoured during an ‘in-memoriam’ segment during one of the games at this month’s tournament, which is scheduled for June 17-26.
“Those are four people we have to acknowledge,” said Timm. “We would be remiss if we didn’t.”
Todd was the longtime president/chairperson of both the Canada Cup – which was first held in the early 1990s – and the White Rock Renegades softball organization, as well as one of Canada’s top race-horse owners.
“We were gut-punched when he passed,” said Timm, who took over from Todd as the Canada Cup chair in 2009. “He was so proud of what this tournament ending up being… he came to the park every year, even long after he was finished (as chair).
“He’d come out for the night and spend time catching up with everyone, and he just loved it. He loved being at the park watching the games, and he was just so proud of this event and its legacy.”
Demaris first began volunteering at the Canada Cup in the 1990s, and according to tournament organizers, he simply wanted to help – “not because he had a daughter in the sport (he didn’t), but because he believed in community and wanted to volunteer to contribute to his.”
Upon his passing, organizers noted that as the one in charge of transportation, Demaris was “the first friendly face that international teams met as they arrived in Vancouver and the last to wish them safe travels on their return home.”
Timm called him “one of those shining-light guys,” adding that “when I die I might have 15 people at my funeral, but Frank will have a thousand.”
Canada Cup organizers have partnered with the BC Amateur Sports Fund to created the Frank Demaris Volunteer Spirit Award, which will suppose a female athlete who competes in the Canada Cup and also demonstrates the spirit of volunteerism.
Andrijaszyn passed away in 2020, and in 2021, Softball BC announced that its volunteer-of-the-year award had been renamed in his honour.
The longtime Canada Cup volunteer was also an executive with the Richmond Girls Softball Association and Softball BC; upon his passing, the provincial sports organization credited Andrijaszyn – who was a chartered accountant – for “guiding Softball BC back to sustainability.”
Donaldson, meanwhile, was a longtime volunteer at the Canada Cup, though Timm noted he “worked more on the men’s side of the game.” He was also a member of the International Softball Congress, serving as a vice-president and director for the annual men’s softball World Tournament.
He died in March 2021 at the age of 69, after battling cardiac issues.
The in-memoriam event is planned for Tuesday, June 21, 5:30 p.m. at Softball City.
Other special events planned for the week include a ceremony to include former Team Canada slugger – and Earl Marriott Secondary graduate – Melanie Matthews into the World Baseball Softball Confederation Hall of Fame, which is set for Thursday, June 23 at 5:30 p.m., while a recognition ceremony for Team Canada’s Olympic bronze medal win is planned for Friday, June 24 at 5 p.m.