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Baseball program returns to Truro and shines spotlight on girls' sportsmanship

Rhaina Dykeman and her mother, Sherri Dykeman. The pair are looking forward to the return of Canadian Girls Baseball after a memorable first season two years ago.
Rhaina Dykeman and her mother, Sherri Dykeman. The pair are looking forward to the return of Canadian Girls Baseball after a memorable first season two years ago. - Chelsey Gould
BIBLE HILL, N.S. —

Sherri Dykeman is looking forward to seeing girls arrive at the Bible Hill Recreation Park fields again this summer – saying “hi,” grabbing a partner and going off to toss and catch baseballs.

It’s a labour of love for the Canadian Girls Baseball (CGB) league coordinator, who would put on 10,000 steps running between three fields “like a chicken with my head cut off” before 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

“Making sure everybody's good, taking pictures, cheering them on and engaging the parents – I love every part of the chaos and the craziness of running a league,” said Sherri. “It has been way more fulfilling than I ever thought that it would be and I’m really looking forward to just getting back to that kind of organized chaos.”

Two summers ago, CGB launched its free program in Truro for 60 kids ranging from age four to 16. It also offers paid coaching opportunities for teens and adults and parent volunteer positions. Now, it is back after COVID cancelled in-person activities last year.

Sherri’s 9-year-old daughter, Rhaina Dykeman, was one of the participants.

“I thought it was really fun ’cause I was able to get a few of my friends into baseball and I got to make new friends,” said Rhaina. “I just thought it was a cool experience to have like an all-girls baseball thing.”

For the summer, participants are grouped into teams by age. The first hour of practice is spent building skills while the next involves a game. At the kudos board last season, girls wrote and pasted notes celebrating others’ sportsmanship and accomplishments during the practice.

It was important for Sherri to include parents in the action too and help them realize playing sports is not about kids’ needing to win. She provides them with a poster-making station, and her daughter remembers how fun the kids versus parents game was at the end of the season.

“We focused a lot on the sportsmanship, leadership skills and pride in yourself,” said Sherri. “(Saying) ‘you were really great with pumping up your teammates today.’ 'That was that was really helpful.’ 'That's awesome to see.' Those kind of life skills I think are kind of missed sometimes in sports.”

Rhaina Dykeman, 9, practices her catching skills. She took part in Canadian Girls Baseball when it debuted in Truro two years ago.  - Chelsey Gould
Rhaina Dykeman, 9, practices her catching skills. She took part in Canadian Girls Baseball when it debuted in Truro two years ago. - Chelsey Gould

Sherri can’t “put it into words” how much it means to have this opportunity for kids this age. Growing up in Yarmouth, N.S., she was the only girl on a mixed baseball team and said it “soured” her experience of playing sports.

“Girls learn in such a different way than boys do, so to be able to tailor a program specifically to teaching girls ... it's been really fulfilling to watch, just to watch these little girls come into their own," she said.

“It helped us fill a need in sporting for girls specifically. It was nice to just be to watch them all grow together, make new friends, get along and just learn the skills in the sport."

Rhaina liked playing with friends and taking part in something fun just for girls and encourages others to join.

"If my summer was going to be boring – which probably wasn't because I have a bunch of friends near where I live – I always could have something to look forward to,” said Rhaina. “So I can always look forward to CGB and getting to hang out with some friends and play a game that I really like.”

CGB was founded by Dana Bookman after she could not find an all-girls team for her daughter. She started Toronto Girls Baseball in 2016 and the program has since rapidly expanded across the country.

The Truro league is currently accepting registrations and coaching applications.

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