“We’ve got lots do to, but we’re on schedule and on target, and we’ll get it all done,” says George Arcand, executive director of Softball Yukon.
Softball Yukon is gearing up for its biggest event to date—the 2012 Women’s World Fastpitch Championships—and the host organization has been making its lists and checking them twice for a long time now.
“It was quite a process to be chosen as the host community,” explains Arcand.
“First we had to get the blessing of Softball Canada, our national sport governing body, to put a bid forward. Then we had to get to the International Softball Federation and compete for the opportunity. Then, once we won, the real work started.”
As the event approaches this weekend’s opening, the task facing the organizers is down to the details.
“Our main focus in the home stretch is the maintenance of the ballpark,” Arcand says.
“We’ve been putting up more bleachers and fencing, getting the infields prepped, and dressing up the space so it looks ready for the big event.”
When asked if he’s excited for the games to begin he laughs, “I think a good portion of the city is excited, but to be honest I’ll be excited after it’s all said and done and has been a success.”
He says for him that success will be most authentic if all of the players leave Whitehorse happy.
“After all,” he adds, “the championships are really for the players, Yes, to a lesser extent they are for the fans and for the government officials, but they are fundamentally for the players and I want them to have the best experience possible.”
Those players are coming from around the world to compete.
Teams from 16 countries will be suiting up to represent their nations, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, United States and Venezuela.
The three previous medalists from the last world championships in 2010—United States (gold), Japan (silver), and Canada (bronze)—will all be in attendance, and expectations are growing for some spectacular games.
If you are planning to catch some of the action, here’s a quick primer on the difference between baseball and softball so you don’t embarrass yourself in the stands.
First things first—they are not the same thing, as Arcand is quick to point out.
Baseball uses a hardball and pitchers throw overhand from a mound. In softball pitchers throw underhand from a flat surface using a softball.
And there are two types of softball: slowpitch, which is the most common in Yukon, and fastpitch, which is what will thrill audiences at the Pepsi Centre this month.
“It should be really exciting for the Yukon crowd,” says Arcand.
“We only have one fastpitch team (the senior men), so most Yukoners are not that familiar with the sport.”
He adds, “I expect them to be impressed with the speed along with the quality of the play.”
The games will start with an opening ceremony on July 13 at 6 p.m. Games will run through July 22 when the finals will take place, followed by a closing ceremony.
A full schedule of games, ticket information and volunteer opportunities can be found on the events website at: http://worldfastpitch2012.com.
All of the action will take place at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Takhini.
“We’ve come a long way,” says Arcand.
“There’s a lot of challenges associated with bidding for, hosting, and pulling off an event like this. We (the organizing team) are going to feel a great deal of satisfaction watching it all get going on the 13th.”
Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].