North Delta’s Sunfire Senior A softball team will be representing B.C. this weekend in the Western Canadian championships.
Despite a tough regular season, the team beat out seven others from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island win their first provincial title in early July, earning them the chance to compete against the best of the west in Abbotsford Aug. 18-21.
“This year was a tough year for us with having enough players and keeping the team together so it was rewarding to know that all of our commitment meant something,” said team manager Rachel Allan. “We accomplished what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.”
North Delta Sunfire teammates Britni McLennan (left) and Francais Olexa.
What makes this Senior A team unique is that, despite the broad age range between teammates, they manage to come together and work as a team. Francais Olexa, who has been playing on the team for two seasons and also has a scholarship to play softball in Southern Florida, said she feels honoured to be playing alongside athletes she has looked up to since she was a kid.
“These are girls I’ve grown up seeing on the field, so it is fun to work with them and get to know them as people and not just [as] my idols,” Olexa said.
A far as the Sunfire are concerned, teamwork, trust, and hard work are what led them to their provincial championship.
“We worked together towards a common goal and when one individual is not performing, the rest of the team picks up the slack,” said Allan.
This is head coach Susan Henderson’s 20th year coaching the Sunfire and the team trained hard to make it a memorable milestone for her.
“We wanted to do something special to commemorate that achievement for her,” Allan said.
Although the International Olympic Committee voted to bring back softball for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Allan said softball at a senior level is still not well known. However, she said, having North Delta Sunfire win the provincial championship was a great way to gain exposure for the sport and encourage the community to cheer on their local team.
Sunfire Britni McLennan, who is in her 18th season with the North Delta Softball Association, said the IOC’s decision points to good things to come in the world of softball.
“There was a little bit of lost interest after it was pulled out of the Olympics, but now that it is back I think there is going to be a little bit of a resurgence of the sport,” McLennan said.