The Village of Oil Springs has a lot to be proud of this summer. Their U18 Bantam fastball team has earned the right to participate in the 2016 Ontario Games and Coach Rick Murray says the excitement is mounting.
“The boys feel very good about it,” he says. “They’ll be competing in a field of seven teams.”
Murray, who has been coaching for many years, knows the calibre of the team is superior. “Most of the boys have been with me for three years,” he says. “This team is very capable of winning it.”
In preparation for this big step onto the provincial stage, Murray recently acquired his National Baseball Level 2 certificate which allows him to coach at the national level.
The Oil Springs team is also on track to win the Ontario Rural Softball Association (ORSA) championship after beating Glencoe in the ORSA play downs. The two out of three series saw Glencoe take the first game 9-2, but Oil Springs fought back with an impressive two-game shutout, chalking up respective scores of 10-0 and 9-0. They are now waiting to find out which team they will meet in the finals.
The team’s reputation is growing throughout the province and, according to Murray, Oil Springs has been invited to play the Seneca College team whose coach has been affiliated with the Blue Jays in past years.
To offset the cost of the team’s participation at the Ontario Games, several fundraisers are slated. There have been a couple of fundraising barbecues and a quarter auction is also slated for the Dresden arena Aug. 8.
The money will be used to buy uniforms and pay for travel expenses. Murray says community assistance has been forthcoming from many sources throughout the area. “Heidi (Heidi’s Independent) and people from Dresden and other places outside Oil Springs are helping the team,” he says.
But Murray says one source that has remained mute throughout this process is Oil Springs village council. “It’s very disheartening,” he says. “The rest of the community is supporting the team but for them (council) not to even acknowledge these boys is very disappointing.”
He says he attempted to raise funds with an arts and crafts event at the local Oil Springs hall and went to council to try to get some consideration toward the rental of the hall.
“These boys are getting known in Ontario,” he says.
“Baseball is a great character-builder and you’d think they’d want to support us… there was no response from council at all.”
Murray notes that in all his years of coaching and in all of the communities he has done so, support at the municipal level has always been forthcoming in some way. “This is the first time I’ve failed (to get support),” he says. “We’ve done things for the community and baseball can open doors for these kids,” he said.
Regardless of the municipal government’s lack of acknowledgement for the team’s progress to big time baseball competition, Murray says the team feels good about the level of community support it is receiving. “The people in town have a goal of raising enough money to pay for the whole thing,” he said. “We’re going to make Oil Springs proud.”