Have you ever driven past the corner of West 33rd Avenue and Dunbar Street between April and July and wondered what is going on at Memorial Park? Perhaps you have taken a closer look and realized there were a bunch of kids playing baseball.
For those of us that know and love Dunbar Little League, we are well versed in its 62-year history. We truly grasp how lovely it is to see neighbourhood children experiencing the freedom of riding their bikes to the park for their game and hanging around all afternoon to watch their friends play. Us DLL’ers (as we refer to ourselves) genuinely count down the days until spring as we can’t wait for the concession to open. It’s great taking a few nights off cooking and being able to feed the entire family for under $50.
We revel in the competitiveness and level of skill our volunteer coaches bring to the diamond and we are so impressed by how quickly the players improve. Although the sport may start more slowly at the lower levels, in a few short seasons the intensity and level of fun increases exponentially. Most of all, you would be hard-pressed to find someone whose kid plays Dunbar Little League who does not love the legendary BBQs in the outfield during the games and afterward, where regardless of the outcome of the game, all the parents and players from both teams stay and socialize.
While the park serves as the de facto town hall for so many, there is still a large contingent of our neighbourhood that may wonder about the goings-on at Memorial Park between April to July. It may feel as though Dunbar Little League is like that restaurant that always seems busy when you drive by it, but you never actually go in and check out why it’s so popular.
As we reach out to our greater Dunbar neighbourhood, we invite you to get to know us better.
Here are a few fast facts about Dunbar Little League:
- We are a 100% volunteer-run organization.
- Many of our local community sponsors have been supporters of Dunbar Little League since its inception in 1958.
- We are, quite simply, one of the last true neighbourhood sporting associations. In an age where sports associations vie with specialized club teams to raise the level of their competitiveness, DLL has stayed true to its core values of being a community association where children, regardless of skill or background, are welcome to join. We have also developed a strong post-season culture to support our athletes who strive for a higher level of competition.
- We remain true to our founding commitment to our players that, during our regular season, we only play one another instead of teams outside DLL. The level of fun and comradery that springs from neighbours playing neighbours cannot be underestimated.
- A number of our volunteers, despite their children having aged out of Little League baseball long ago, continue to contribute their time and resources because of the strong bonds of friendship they forged during their time in DLL. One such volunteer is Don Currie, who, at 80 years young, is still an active part of our league and has been so for nearly 50 years!
People often ask, “What does baseball season actually look like and isn’t it boring?” While some people may find the T-ball years (ages 4 to 6) a bit dull, almost every parent comments on how quickly their little player engages in the competitive spirit of the game or how rewarding their children find the experience because there are many different skill accomplishments that encourage the athlete in every child at this level.
The eight-week season starts on April 18 with an official opening ceremony and concludes on June 20.
On closing day a parade takes place down Dunbar Street. All of the players in their uniforms are joined by the Vancouver Canadians mascot, antique cars, police escort, and fire trucks!
Within our season we host a number of different events to continually support our culture of a strong community. On May 31 we host a pancake breakfast and fun skills competition for our graduating 12-year-old players. On Mother’s Day we serve a special brunch item (free of charge) to all our moms and grandmas in the stands. On June 6 we have our annual coaches game, which gives our players an opportunity to see if their coach can actually do what he or she has been asking of them all season. We understand there is some fast and furious betting that takes place under the grandstand, with more than a few hot dogs and slushies at stake!
Behind the scenes is a dedicated cohort of volunteers. Many work year-round to prepare for the upcoming season and are constantly looking for new ways to engage our local sponsors, improve the level of development for our players, attract new players to the game and most importantly, increase awareness about the DLL to our neighbourhood.
This year, as a result of the dedication of our committed volunteers, we have secured the largest funding grant in the history of Dunbar Little League!
Through the Vancouver Canadians baseball organization and The Cape Group “Change up Field Project,” Dunbar Little League has been awarded $50,000 to refurbish our facilities. We are so excited to be able to make these improvements, which will directly benefit our players and neighbourhood for years to come.
On July 18 to 25 we prepare to host the rest of the province for the Little League Provincial Championships.
We want to start with an open invitation to our neighbours — please take a moment to drop by anytime between April and July; we will be there, likely with a burger in hand, waiting for you!
For updates on all our events throughout this season, please visit our website.
It is not too late to register your player! Go to https://dunbarbaseball.ca/registration/
Any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Joyce Gillespie, DLL President at firstname.lastname@example.org
Story by Joyce Gillespie, DLL President
Photos by Sandra Steier and submitted