December 20, 2018 8:40 pm
Updated: December 20, 2018 10:08 pm

Calgary Kaizen Softball hits home run by teaching the importance of giving back

WATCH: Community Reporter Deb Matejicka explains how Calgary Kaizen Softball is winning when it comes to teaching its players important life lessons off the field.

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Calgary Kaizen Softball has hit a home run this holiday season, without any of their players even having to set a foot on a ball diamond.

“We started this last year where we wanted to have the girls give back to the community,” explained Kaizen board member Greg Muir.

“So we sent a message out to all the teams [and] had them raise donations, so food items, clothing, toys for the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Alberta.”

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READ MORE: Calgary softball organization launches fall academy to increase player profile in U.S.

All seven teams responded, bringing in hundreds of items that will be dropped off for the families who will be staying at the Calgary house over Christmas.

“We’re trying to develop softball players, but we’re also trying to develop really good human beings and good young ladies,” Muir said, explaining why the organization came together as one recently to collect the donations and to have some holiday fun.

“[We’re] really trying to build a culture, a community within Kaizen,” he added, “so we had kids from 17, 18-year-olds playing with 9, 10-year-olds.

“It was a lot of fun.”

Ken Smith helped lead Kaizen’s U14 team to a Provincial A title and a bronze medal at the Western Canadian Championship last year. As a coach, he said, it’s just as important to teach players lessons off the field as it is on the field.

“They (sick kids) don’t get to get out to swing a bat every day, they don’t get out to throw a ball every day,” said Smith.

“For these kids that don’t get to do this stuff, that’s where I feel the importance comes from,” he continued. “Our girls understand that and when they realize and understand that they’re giving back to kids who cannot do this stuff, that’s where I think the importance comes in.”

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Muir added they’re hoping players also understand that their ability to play softball is in part thanks to all the support they receive.

“We do a lot of fundraising throughout the year to pay for our tournaments, field rentals, facility rentals so we feel it’s really important for the kids to give back to the community that’s given them the chance to play at this level,” he said.

“So it’s really important for them to understand that this stuff doesn’t come for free, that they have to work for it, they have to earn it and that their parents put a lot of work and their community’s put a lot of work into getting these kids to [the] level they’re playing at today.”

WATCH: Calgary softball organization launches fall academy to increase player profile in the United States

It would seem players do get it.

“It makes me feel like good on the inside, knowing I’m doing something good for other people other than myself,” said Kaizen pitcher Mackenzie Lee, adding she is “very thankful” for the support she has had throughout her ball career.

“If I didn’t have my parents, I wouldn’t be here right now playing softball — my favorite sport,” said the 15-year-old.

Storm Edwards, 14, has a personal connection to this year’s charity.

“My cousin spent, I think, three months there in the Ronald McDonald House last year,” said Edwards, a catcher on the U16 Futures team.

“So it’s always nice to give back to the people who helped my family out so much, especially over the holidays.  It’s a great time.”

 

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