Despite brisk winds and overcast skies, moments of sunshine, cooler temperatures, and even torrential downpours in the final hours of the tournament, close to 600 ball players and fans gathered on the diamonds at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park (MAP) this weekend to welcome in spring.
Every year, the Langley Mixed Slo-Pitch League holds what they call an Ice Breaker Challenge to kick off the season, said league president Peter Zeller.
“That’s why they call it an ice breaker, because it kind of feels like it out here,” Zeller said from the confines of a makeshift office tent, pointing to the sun peaking between the trees close to the park grandstand.
The Ice Breaker was held this weekend at MAP featuring 30 teams of about 15 to 20 players each – players ranging in age from 18 to people in their 60s.
“This is an opening tournament for those who want to step up to the plate and dust off the cob webs before the season officially begins,” Zeller said, noting official season play begins Monday.
The annual tournament has been going on since the late 1990s. New this year, however, the league has gone to hosting two Ice Breaker events, this being the first and another in two weeks.
With 172 teams in the league this year, and so many anxious to be part of the season opener, the divisions were divvied up with the higher calibre teams taking the field this weekend, and more of the fun leagues hitting the turf after Easter.
He’s been playing ball with the league since 1991, and took over as president the next year.
“There’s people playing here today, who weren’t even born when I took over,” Zeller said.
While most of the participating teams are from Langley, Zeller said a couple of teams came from out-of-town, as well, including Surrey and Chilliwack.
He said Langley has a strong reputation for some of the best co-ed teams in the province, and some of the strongest across the country, and he saw a taste of that talent on the fields this past weekend.