Sports

QF Royals up and running for season

Royals’ skipper Dave Wallace, addressing the players at their new indoor practice facility, says he’s looking forward to another season with the high performance baseball club. - James Clarke
Royals’ skipper Dave Wallace, addressing the players at their new indoor practice facility, says he’s looking forward to another season with the high performance baseball club.
— image credit: James Clarke

Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals are up and running, literally, and loving their new indoor practice facility, which the club’s longtime skipper says he expects to pay dividens down the road for his team.

The Royals’ have 34 players registered thus far and 26 of them turned out at week two of the two-hour practices when The NEWS stopped by.

“They’re not tryouts they’re workouts,” Wallace said down at field level as the players worked on their swings — the sound of so many whiffle balls whizzing through the air something a little different.

Most of the players out that day he said were Grade 8 and 9’s that are part of the newly named North Island Royals (formally the Blizzard) Bantam Triple-A program.

Also out were Parksville pitcher Nick Annau, a senior stalwart entering his fourth year with the Royals, and Alex Hendra-Brown, who has transferred up from Victoria to play here this season.

Built back in 1995, the building measures 60x90 metres (200x300 feet), boasts 5,400 sq. metres, and has hosted many events from equestrian to motocross to car shows and soon an RV show.

The indoor turf is the playing surface from B.C. Place Stadium before its big reno. The sections are around 2.4x4.8 metres (8x16 ft.) and weigh in around 635 kg (1,400lbs) each. Also purchased at the same time were some of the old B.C. Place bleachers which are being refit to their new home.

“It was a great turnout today — I was really pleased,” Wallace said after the kids had left the building.

The Royals indoor sessions started the first Sunday of November and will consist of eight sessions carrying through to the end of February.

“Great facility. Its got lots of potential and they’ve spent a lot of time converting it over, they’ve done a tremendous job here,” said Wallace. “They’ve invested some serious dough putting this thing together.”

Nanaimo’s Harbour City Youth Soccer got the ball rolling when they signed on as the building’s primary tenant and have been using the facility weekdays from 6-9 p.m. and some weekends. Oceanside Minor Baseball is also looking into using the facility, as is the lacrosse crowd.

“Oh yeah; we’re pretty lucky. It’s going to make a big difference to our program,” said Wallace, explaining “it allows us to do a lot of things ahead of time or when the weather is really bad, we don’t have to necessarily cancel practice when it gets really bad (outside) now, which is great.”

Beyond that he said, “it simulates as close to an outdoor facility as well as any place in B.C. You get very true bounces, in fact that indoor turf is even better than playing on the grass fields because you don’t get the crazy bounces. It builds confidence in the players,” explained the longtime coach. “they’re not tentative at all in approaching the ball. The other thing is it’s huge — it’s bigger than any other indoor baseball facility in B.C., I guarantee that, and it just expands what we can do. We can pretty much run a full blown practice just like we do outside. The one thing it doesn’t have is batting cages, but apparently they’re working on that.”

“It’s absolutely outstanding — we couldn’t wish for a better facility. We’re fortunate the owners have developed this facility.”

Another bonus is the facility is centrally located for the Royals, who for the last 15 years have trained indoors at Port Alberni’s Glenwood Centre.

“They were great to us, but geographically and from a training point of view, this is far better — it’s superior to any facility in B.C.”

 

DIAMOND BITS

The Royals take their game outdoors the first week of March, and the Royals BCPBL regular season campaign starts April 13th in Victoria against the Mariners.

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