What a Year!

What a year!

The last twelve months (or so) have been absolutely fantastic.

At the end of April 2014, NDG Baseball fêted Lionel Geller as he moved on to the next chapter in his life after dedicating thirty seven years to the children of Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The day of the intimate dinner, Borough Mayor Russell Copeman announced that Loyola-2 Field at Loyola Park will be renamed Lionel Geller field. This is truly a fitting way to honour such an icon.

In June I assumed the position of St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal Secretary, a position I was eager to do well in. We got the membership list in order, migrating it to an Access database from an Excel spreadsheet and trying our best to update members’ contact information.

However that gig was cut short in the Fall. There was some movement at the upper levels of the Society’s board and, after which, I was invited to continue sitting as an Officer of the corporation but now as a Vice President. It has been a pleasure to sit as a vice president. I continue to learn about the organization each and every day. My responsibilities have not changed all that much, although responsibility for the membership list remains with the new Secretary.

Also in the Fall I stepped away from my responsibilities with NDG Minor Baseball after dedicating some time as its president and director of communications. It was an absolute pleasure to be associated with the best Little League association in the province. The work those moms and dads accomplish for the good of their children and community is exemplary and it was a real joy to be a part of that recipe for success.

Now we all know that March is a very busy month in the Irish community. There are meetings, receptions, balls, luncheons, and parades. There are four parades that we generally associate with, in fact. The big Montreal parade, Hudson, Chateauguay, and Quebec City are all close to our heart. Unfortunately this Saturday we will not be able to attend the parade in Quebec City due to a scheduling conflict with the United Irish Societies’ Banquet.

My role in this year’s parade in Montreal was to act as a commentator for Bellmedia’s Bell Local production of the parade, along with longtime UIS member Richard McConomy, who has a background in acting to complement his legal career. His experience in this area put my mind at ease, even though prepared 18 pages of information on the various groups participating in the parade with the help of UIS Parade Director Patty McCann. In hindsight I may have overprepared for this assignment but it was worth the effort to keep my mind at ease.

Richard McConomy and Ken Quinn froze mightily in the performance of their parade day responsibilities.

Richard McConomy and Ken Quinn froze mightily in the performance of their parade day responsibilities.

The role as TV commentator took me away from walking in the parade. I have to say I had mixed feelings about not walking in the parade, the first time I failed to do so since I joined the UIS in 1992. Despite those mixed feelings and the freezing cold weather on parade day, I had an absolutely fantastic experience on the TV podium with Me. McConomy. His experience certainly made up for my lack of experience and general nervousness. I tip my hat to him, to roving reporter Catherine Cleland, and the entire crew associated with the production. If they ask me back next year I will gladly agree to do it. I may buy ski pants if the weather is this cold, though.

Little League Tournament Continues

The 7-team Little League Canada championship has concluded the round robin portion of the tournament in Valleyfield, Quebec, where the High Park Braves finished atop the leaderboard with a perfect 6-0 record followed by the NDG Major Lynx, the Southwest LL All Stars, and the South Vancouver All Stars all with 4-2 records. Because none of the three teams defeated both of their other opponents, the tie for 2nd was broken using the runs against ratio, total runs against divided by total defensive innings. The nod for 2nd went to the team from South Vancouver, leaving NDG and Southwest LL tied for 3rd, which Southwest LL takes as a result of their victory over NDG during round robin play. Final standings are:

High Park Braves 6-0
South Vancouver All-Stars 4-2
Southwest Little League 4-2
NDG Major Lynx 4-2
North Regina Little League 2-4
Lancaster Allstars 1-5
Les Elites de Valleyfield 0-6

Semi final action takes place tomorrow (August 9th) with the winners advancing to the championship game on Sunday (August 10th):

Semi Final 1 August 9 @ 13h00 NDG vs. High Park
Semi Final 2 August 9 @ 16h00 Southwest LL vs. South Vancouver
Championship August 10 @ 13h00 Winner SF1 vs. Winner SF2

If you’re a fan of baseball, from NDG, or find yourself with some free time on the weekend, the players in this tournament and the organizers will welcome you with open arms.

All games are taking place at Stade Roland-Boyer, formerly known as Parc Delpha-Sauvé.

The winners of this tournament advance to the Little League World Series, taking place in Williamsport, PA from August 14-24. No team from Quebec has represented Canada in this tournament since Valleyfield did in 1992.

Say it loud and say it proud: GO LYNX GO!

Little League Canada’s Little League National Championships

Earlier this month the NDG Major Lynx, a team of 11 and 12 year old boys based out of the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace Borough and surrounding communities in Montreal playing under the NDG Minor Baseball League banner, steamrolled over their competition at Little League Quebec’s Little League Provincial Championships in Rouyn-Noranda. In the abbreviated 3 game tournament the Major Lynx outscored their opposition 56-0 on their way to the title.

The Provincial Tournament win earned the Major Lynx the right to compete at Little League Canada’s Little League National Championships, which are set to begin on Friday August 1st in Valleyfield, Quebec. The winner of this tournament advances to the famous Little League World Series, held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania later in August.

The road to Williamsport is never an easy one for any team from Quebec. No team from Quebec has won this tournament since Valleyfield took in in 1992. Despite the historical odds stacked against the Major Lynx, they have prepared all year for this opportunity and they are looking forward to the chance to build on the results from the 2004 Major Lynx, coached by Carey Ashton and his associates, who advanced to the championship game in Brossard, QC after finishing 2-3 in the round robin portion of that tournament, forcing a tie breaker game against Sydney Mines, a very exciting semi final victory against Langley, BC followed by a 4-1 loss to East Nepean in the championship game.

This year’s Lynx team schedule is as follows:

August 2nd @ 15h00 Team Quebec vs Host
August 3rd @ 18h00 Team Quebec vs Alberta
August 4th @ 15h00 Team Quebec vs Prairies
August 5th @ 15h00 Team Quebec vs Atlantic
August 6th @ 15h00 Team Quebec vs Ontario
August 7th @ 12h00 Team Quebec vs British Columbia

Playoffs take place on August 9th with the Championship Game on Sunday August 10th. Support the local boys from NDG, the Host Team from Valleyfield, and all the players visiting our province. It’s good baseball and our visitors will appreciate the support.

11th Annual Robert & Steve Michelin Memorial Tournament

For the 11th consecutive year NDG Minor Baseball is hosting the Robert & Steve Michelin Memorial Baseball Tournament.

Originally a tournament for Junior aged players (U14), in Little League parlance, for the 2nd straight year there will also be a tournament for Little League aged players (U12).

The Junior Tournament will take place on three diamonds in NDG and Cote St. Luc with eleven teams confirmed. The teams playing their round robin games at the recently refurbished Loyola-1 field in NDG are the NDG Junior Lynx, a team from Cornwall, the Montreal Rockies, and a team from Orleans Little League in Ontario. The field now has a grass infield and drains as well as, if not better than, Gary Carter field in Cote St. Luc. The remaining teams, playing at two fields in Cote St. Luc, are Dom Dinelle’s Tigers, Victoriaville, Clinton County NY, Montreal Bucs, Drummondville, Kemptville, and St. Leonard.

The Major Tournament will take place solely in Cote St. Luc. Unfortunately NDG Baseball does not have a suitable field available in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Cote-des-Neiges Borough for this age group. Loyola-2 field, soon to be renamed Lionel Geller Field at Loyola Park, in my estimation would be a fantastic field to host tournaments for the younger players – if only it had a fence surrounding it. The teams competing are the NDG Major Lynx, the Montreal Rockies, St. Leonard, Orleans, Ottawa Royals, South Ottawa, and Lakeshore. Clearly there is a Quebec – Ontario balance to this tournament.

If you’re a fan of youth baseball, why not stop in to see some good ball? I know the players will appreciate it! Admission is free, too! The tournament takes place June 13th through June 15th.

Bring your father to the games – a nice way to spend Father’s Day weekend.

 

Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace Borough to Honour Longtime Volunteer

On Monday April 28th friends, family, and associates gathered at a tiny restaurant in Notre-Dame-de-Grace to honour Lionel Geller, a longtime NDG Minor Baseball volunteer who stepped aside at the end of October 2013 after 37 years of service to his community.

Surprise!

Surprise!

When he made his announcement the Board and the baseball community was happy, sad, and stunned all rolled into one. After 37 years of service, many of them long after his own children left the ball fields of NDG to forge their own lives, Lionel is a living legend. We are happy he has made this decision, which will give him more time to spend with the ones he loves. We are sad to see him leave. No longer will we see him pull his note paper from his shirt pocket to jot something down before he forgets. We were stunned at the announcement. In good health, Lionel exhibited no outward signs of an impending departure. In fact, his final year with NDG Minor Baseball was served as its president!

After a period of reflection, the Board decided to gather his friends, family, and associates to thank him for everything he has done for the youth of the community. On Monday, former NDG Baseball presidents such as Steve Glazer, Terry Doucet, Martin Cote, Ken Quinn and Debbie Praw joined his friends and family for a surprise get together at Mamma Mia Restaurant on Cote St. Luc Road. Lionel surprised us by arriving early with Doreen, his wife, to be able to get a good parking spot.

James Rankine (R) presents token to Lionel (L)

James Rankine (R) presents token to Lionel (L)

The speeches were kept to an absolute minimum to maintain the gathering’s informal atmosphere. As dessert was being served, James Rankine rose to say a few words and, on behalf of NDG Minor Baseball, presented Lionel with a beautifully framed photograph. Ken Quinn then rose to read a letter from the borough’s mayor, none of the elected borough officials being able to attend owing to a City Council meeting.  Mayor Russell Copeman praises Lionel in the letter before announcing the following:

“I am glad to announce that the baseball field currently known as “Loyola 2” will soon be dedicated to you and will be called the “LIONEL GELLER Field””

This field is found at the corner of Coronation and Fielding in western NDG within the beautiful Loyola Park. What a nice gesture on the part of the Borough! An official ceremony will take place this summer.

Ron Nathaniel rose to present Lionel with a gift he made himself, thanking Lionel for getting him involved with NDG Baseball. While Lionel thanked everyone for the gifts and for attending the evening it is we who thank Lionel for 37 years of dedication to the youth of the community.

Bravo, Lionel! You’ve earned your retirement.

It’s Baseball Season!

ChampionsBaseball season is fast approaching. In the Borough of Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace this is a sign that the NDG Minor Baseball volunteers are hard at work preparing equipment, uniforms, and the required Little League paperwork to provide the children of the area a memorable baseball experience.

Parents can register their children at any time however on Sunday April 27th NDG Baseball will be holding an Onsite Registration from 11AM to 2PM at Saint-Luc High School (Confederation Complex), (5320 Kensington) , giving parents and players alike the chance to ask their questions in person.
Since 2004 NDG Baseball teams have represented Little League Quebec at the various Canadian National Championships seventeen times and two teams have represented Little League Canada at the Senior League World Series in Bangor Maine, in 2011 and 2012.
NDG Baseball’s foundation is its house league program, a program for children from the age of five years to eighteen years where the focus is on participation and education about the game. All children living within the League’s boundaries, or who attend school on a full time basis within the League’s boundaries, are eligible to play.

For the first time, NDG Baseball is endeavouring to field a girls’ softball team, or teams. The League is hopeful it can attract a sufficient number of girls to begin what it believes to be an excellent opportunity for girls to learn about the great game of softball.

Encourage your friends and neighbours to enroll their children in the best Little League organization in the province. They won’t be disappointed.

You can contact the League at info@ndgbaseball.org, or by calling (514) 359-6788. You can also visit the League’s website at www.ndgbaseball.org

Volunteerism

Giving back to the community is something I have done for many years, from my high school days onward. In the 1990s I sat on the Board of Directors of C@M Internet, Montreal’s pioneer Internet provider and a non profit corporation in its own right. The day to day operations were managed by a general manager and the board convened to make key decisions. In terms of volunteering there was no heavy lifting involved. I continued to sit on this board until the organization merged with COOPTel.

In the late 1990s I was elected to the Board of Directors of the United Irish Societies of Montreal, an organization I joined in 1991 or 1992. Since that time I served as Treasurer, Vice President – Organization, Senior Vice President, President, and Chairperson of the Website Management Committee. With the exception of Vice President – Organization, who is responsible to organize the longest consecutively held St. Patrick’s Parade in Canada, none of those positions were truly labour intensive. Best known as the Parade’s organizers, the United Irish Societies organizes a Christmas Raffle to the benefit of approximately sixty disadvantaged families at a time of year when they are most vulnerable. The most rewarding tasks I have ever performed with the United Irish Societies is assembling and delivering Christmas Baskets. To see a child, whose apartment is barren of furniture and whose window dressing consists of old bedsheets, scream with excitement at the amount of food he is receiving or to receive an appreciative hug from a mother gives me the reassurance that what we are going is a good thing.

Yogi Berra once said “Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” In the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace Borough of the City of Montreal there is a successful baseball organization, NDG Minor Baseball League, where my son plays recreationally. I was invited to join this board of directors and have served as convenor, assistant treasurer, president, and director of communications. At times I have also served as coach on my son’s teams. There is nothing more rearding than seeing a child succeed at something he or she has struggled with the entire season. NDG Baseball is a great organization with a core group of long serving, dedicated, volunteers.

This past summer I was also invited to join the board of directors of the Saint Patrick’s Society of Montreal, Canada’s oldest fraternal organization predating the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste by three months, where I chair the Communications Committee and am a member of the Christmas Concert Committee. 

I am honoured and humbled to have served on each of these boards of directors. Each experience has been, and continues to be, rewarding in its own right. You should volunteer some time in your community. You will appreciate it as well the organization you choose to volunteer with.