The cornerstone of any small town in Manitoba is usually the hockey rink. A place where people gather to watch the youth of the community pursue their hopes and dreams of one day playing in the NHL. While Boissevain exemplifies that thought just like any other town, their sporting hopes and dreams seem to have shifted to the ball diamond only two blocks down from the old Boissevain Arena.
The resurgence of both the Southwest Baseball League’s Boissevain Centennials and the Prairie West High School Baseball League’s Boissevain Broncos have turned “Turtle Town” into “Baseball Central.”
“It’s safe to say Boissevain has become known as a baseball town around the province,” said Broncos Head Coach Keith Forsyth. “ “It is a reflection on the coaches and people who have been involved in the minor ball system over the past 10-15 years. Things are cyclical in a small town, and there will always be athletes; hopefully, there are people who share that same passion that will help the young kids get the skills they need.”
The Broncos are once again the talk of the High School Circuit, sitting with a 6-0 record at press time with one game left on the schedule. For a team that starts practicing indoors in February, only to play a one-month long regular season, the program’s success is eye-opening.
The Broncos have been to the Provincial Final three times since the program rebooted in 2007, winning it all in 2015. The program has produced a number of collegiate level ballplayers as well. Kevin McNarland (Rainy River Community College), Patrick Vandoorne (University of North Dakota) both earned educations while playing ball in the USA. Aaron Pugh currently attends the University of Jamestown on a baseball scholarship, and Jared McCorrister has committed to Mayville State University for the upcoming school year.
“We’ve had a string of good players come through the system,” added Forsyth. “We have been the beneficiary of a strong minor ball program that has fed us, solid players. All we (as coaches) do is add to their skill level and teach them some higher level thinking about the game of baseball. The boys absolutely love the game. Getting them out to 6:30 am practices is easy. Not once have I heard a complaint.”
While most of these young men won’t see an NCAA ball field, they can take solace in the fact that if they stick around home, they can continue their career with the Centennials in the SWBL.
“Our Senior team is set to be very competitive for the next decade, depending on where some of the young players find work,” added Forsyth. “The young guys here definitely see the Centennials as the next step in the progression of their ball skills. They also know the Centennials organization is run the same way the high school team is as it is many of the same people in charge there. It’s not a huge transition for them.”
The Broncos will no turn their attention to the playoffs as they begin preparations for Provincials in Neepawa May 31st to June 2nd.