Sidney Little League was one of those organizations straight out of a Norman Rockwell picture. Volunteer moms and dads ran the league but with a laissez-faire attitude. There were two dirt bare lots thinly disguised as baseball fields that were donated by the local but now defunct serviceman’s club. The chain link backstops had turned reddish brown over the years with fencing that was so full of holes its utility was more for show than anything purposeful that the designer may have had in mind. The clubhouse was dilapidated: a small canteen manned by matronly red neck moms with cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths – an establishment even the pigeons avoided. An announcer’s booth equipped with a sound system that squealed and stuttered an ear piercing tinnitus tone like an air raid siren that had seen better days. But it did drown out the traffic from the Pat Bay Highway that was just a stones throw over the center field fences. And to make matters worse, both fields were in the direct flight path of runway 31 of Victoria’s international airport.
First impressions were mixed. Used to seeing and playing on better, more sophisticated digs; the fields left one with a gnawing sense of disillusionment. Sixty bucks for this! Yet, the faces on my 8-year-old twin boys said it all. Eager and excited, their nervous laughter overshadowed my feelings of disappointment. They were as anxious as I was but for different reasons. To show their skills and play – play, that operative word that somehow gets lost in the shuffle of adult’s great expectations. But before long we were on the field. I say we, as I was coerced into coaching one of the teams with one of the other parents. I must have looked the part as I was wearing a baseball cap. Volunteering: that annoying word that scares the beejeezus out of us yet holds together the fabric and life of any small community or neighborhood.
1990 was a watershed season for the Sidney Little League organization. Not for the play on the field but for the group of people that the season brought together. There was Ted, my partner in crime on the threadbare, splintered coaches’ bench. Ted was an arbitration manager for the BC health services department; Wayne, a manager for a local Revelstoke franchise and my neighbor; Cliff, the roofer; Bruce the sign maker; Neil, a sales manager for CHEK TV (now CH), Terry and his green batting machine, a tailor’s nightmare; Len, the lawyer; Peter, the architect; Lori, the nurse; Susan, the grade school teacher; Bob, the Dean of Education at UVic; Tom, the master carpenter and Eric, the local accountant; Sarah,. the antagonist and me, a Naval Officer. There were many other players, coaches and league executive, who all had a role to play, some good and some bad, but all having a part to play as antagonist or protagonist in a play that was to unfold and have a run of over 3 years.
“The very essence of leadership is you have to have a vision” Theodore Hesburgh
They say that all successful ventures must be driven be a vision, a mission statement, a target in which to focus the collective energy of a group, corporation, and business. Does the vision rest solely on an individual’s dream or concept or can it be generated by the collective energy and tacit knowledge, experiences, and understanding of a group of like-minded individuals? (Bennis, Parikh, Lessem) I believe that external pressures generate a vision that fuels action to produce results. In this case, no one individual assumed a leadership role. The vision led us.
Part 3 tomorrow…..SJ