Brooke McBurney and Victoria Derwantz are returning to Lacombe with some new hardware.
At the Alberta Summer Games held in Airdrie over the past weekend, McBurney and Derwantz, as well as the rest of the Girls Zone 4 Softball Team defeated the Zone 3 team to secure the bronze medal.
Zone 4 Coach Clayton Cassidy said that the team did well considering that most of the players had not been on a team together before.
He said that coaching staff encouraged the players to develop relationships with the other players they did not know and while the team did not have deep chemistry, they were able to gel and function as a team during the tournament.
“To be honest, I don’t know if you ever get to a point where you have a ‘team chemistry,’ per se,” said Cassidy.
Both McBurney and Derwantz agreed.
“I thought we did really well considering how we had just met, for a new team,” said Derwantz.
“We did great as a team for not really knowing each other too well going into it and we just really connected over the week,” added McBurney.
Cassidy said that not only was the Zone 4 team made up of players who hadn’t played together before, it was made up of players from nine different communities who had played varying levels of ball.
He said that the teams that placed second and first were mostly made up of players from the same community who played on the same club team.
Zone 4 was made up of more younger players than the other zones as well, said Cassidy.
Given that, he and the girls were very happy with their placement.
“I would say we ended up where we should have,” said Cassidy.
Derwantz agreed. “I thought we did really well winning bronze.”
Cassidy actually said that, after seeing the talented opponents in the first game, he was a little concerned for the Zone 4 team.
However, the girls pulled together and showed that they could compete with the best Alberta had to offer.
“The first game that we played, when I saw the talent level we were up against, I thought we were going to be in trouble,” said Cassidy. “But the girls dug down and we just kept getting stronger as the weekend went on.”
McBurney was the only catcher on the team – both her coach and her teammate commented on her impressive endurance throughout the competition.
“Brooke was our only catcher, that’s a big burden in itself to have to catch all five games,” said Cassidy. “She’s a trouper. She played well and hung in there. Her hand was hurting from catching so much but she stuck with it.”
Derwantz was one of the top pitchers and batters for the team, said Cassidy.
He added she was also near the top of his batting order in each inning.
Cassidy added that, in addition to playing well on the field, both Derwantz and McBurney showed character outside their athletic conduct.
“Furthermore, outside of the way they played, they carried themselves with class,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy said this is the first Alberta Summer Games he has experienced as either an athlete or a coach.
He said that he also wanted his players to be able to experience everything the Alberta Summer Games had to offer, making sure that all players on the team got to play and enjoy the experience.
“Medals were pretty secondary,” said Cassidy. “We felt it was more about the experience and not about medaling.”
McBurney agreed. “A small part is about ball,” she said.
“It was also about meeting people from different zones and getting to know everyone.”
This was a different approach from some of the other teams there, added Cassidy.
He said that it was clear other teams were there solely to compete, with coaches playing only their strongest players and placing curfews on the teams.