The Finishers started it.
The Langley softball team had so much fun at the Armstrong portion of the Funtastic Slo-Pitch tournament they brought more Langley teams like Git R Dun and Playing The Field with them.
So you can understand why longtime Finisher Sam Wolters was upset to hear that, for the first time in 29 years, there will be no games in Armstrong this long weekend due to a lack of registered teams.
“We’ve come the last 12 years,” said Wolters, whose team included her husband, four kids, their spouses and other friends. “We did Vernon the first year but we are a family team and we heard great things about Armstrong. We loved the fact that you parked your camper (at the IPE grounds) and walked everywhere.
“You walked to your game; you walked to Askew’s. You walked to the best bakery inside Askew’s (Country Bakery) where we bought them out of cinnamon bread every day.”
The Finishers even had a wedding in Armstrong during Funtastic.
“That was Dave and Deb, a couple that came with us,” said Wolters. “It was their choice. They got married on Diamond 1. The (Armstrong Spallumcheen) chamber was fantastic. Patti (Noonan), Carol (Hill-Lonergan), Mayor Chris (Pieper), Fran (Stecyk, from local organizing committee), everybody was great to us.”
As of March, Armstrong Funtastic organizers had eight teams committed, and the deadline for teams to pay and register has generally been April 1.
Fran Stecyk, a 10-year Armstrong committee member, said numbers have been diminishing for a number of years.
“We’ve had 44 teams, that was our largest, but the maximum we could have camping was 32,” said Stecyk, who played in the tournament as well. “Camping numbers kept dropping and dropping, and we just know ballplayers, in general, have aged out and the younger generation hasn’t stepped in to replenish the retiring ballplayers.”
Without the registrations, said Stecyk, the tournament couldn’t proceed in Armstrong.