Lack of volunteers puts SMAA at risk

Steve Hamilton, chair of Sarnia Minor Athletic Association baseball league said a shortage of volunteers nearly forced the cancellation of the 2018 season.

Troy Shantz

The Sarnia Minor Athletic Association’s (SMAA) baseball program was faced with a grim reality this summer: find more volunteers, or cancel next year’s season.

“We managed to get through with 14 people. We need 25 to 28 people,” said league chairperson Steve Hamilton. “It was a pretty heavy workload for us.”

The league saw some 660 registered players this year, but declining volunteer numbers came to a head in June. Hamilton – who retired from his duties as chairperson in 2014 – was forced back into the game, taking to Facebook to garner more volunteers. But his calls for help went unanswered.

The league had planned to appoint a new fall executive board, he added, but didn’t have enough numbers to run an election.

In August, he took to social media once again, this time warning that next year’s season could be in jeopardy if no one stepped up to the plate.

This time, the public responded.

“It looks promising now,” said Hamilton, noting around 50 people have expressed interest, though nothing is finalized yet.

“We certainly didn’t want it to die, but we do need people to step forward and help out,” he said. “If nobody did, I think we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

The association, which began in 1947, has six divisions for players aged four to 18, and also offers golf, bowling, girls fastball and lacrosse.

Though they’ve never had to cancel a season, finding volunteers is an ongoing struggle, he said.

“Sometimes, you just take it for granted that it will always be there, that someone is going to go it,” he said. “If you don’t step up, who knows?”

Certain assignments like treasurer and secretary have a considerable time commitment, but most duties are fairly easy to manage, Hamilton noted.

A volunteer information session is scheduled for Sept. 18 at Germain Park.

For more information, visit sarniaminorathletic.com or call 519-331-4252.

 

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: SMAA Baseball volunteer information session

WHEN: Sept. 18, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Chayter building (concession building) at the east side of Germain Park.