Ashlene Minnabarriet, who has been president of the Cache Creek Softball Association for the past three years, has been named as Softball BC’s recipient of the “Unsung Hero” volunteer award for 2022. The organization says that the award is presented to “A person at the local sports organization level without whom our sport would not succeed.”
Minnabarriet says that although she was not able to attend this year’s awards banquet, she got a heads up via email to tell her that she had been chosen to receive the award.
“I have no idea how I got it. I assume someone must have nominated me, and then the Softball BC board decides.”
Asked to rate her surprise at receiving the award on a 1-to-10 scale, Minnabarriet says it was a 10. “I had no idea. I was asked to submit a write-up of my experience with softball over the years, my coaching experience. I didn’t even know the awards existed.”
Softball has been building in Cache Creek and the surrounding area over the past five years. In the 2022 season there were 96 players between the ages of 4 and 14 registered in the association, which had mixed U7 and U9 teams, and enough U13 players to have a boys’ and a girls’ team. It’s hoped that there will be enough players to allow them to offer U17 play in upcoming seasons.
In June the U13 girls’ team, the Cache Creek Thrashers, earned the gold medal in the U13 C regional tournament in June, coming out victorious in the 16-team competition. The boys’ U13 team, the Broncos, took part in the boys’ provincial tournament in Merritt in July.
Even though the softball season doesn’t start again until March, the players have been busy throughout October by selling coupon books at Ashcroft Safety Mart, which every year chooses a local non-profit organization to take part in their Harvest Super Saver fundraiser. Each coupon book costs $10 (with all proceeds this year going to the Cache Creek Softball Association), and contains $50 in savings. Players will be at Safety Mart every day through Oct. 31 to sell the books.
“The fundraiser has done really well,” says Minnabarriet. “We’ve had really good community support.” She adds that lots of parents have wanted to put in time volunteering, to help make the softball association a success.
Minnabarriet hopes that a lot of this year’s players will want to return in 2023. “All our kids are quite young, so I’m hoping they’ll all come back and grow a bit more. We have five kids right now — three girls and two boys — who will be trying out for Team BC for the U16 North American Indigenous Games.”
The season starts in early March and runs through July, with two practice sessions each week on weeknights and games and tournaments on weekends. Even though it’s a big time commitment, Minnabarriet is glad to be able to give back.
“I’m from a tiny town in northern B.C., and my parents committed a lot of time to my fastball. I want to give back to these kids what I had. Fastball did so much for me with friendships and life learning.
“It’s about being a good teammate, being a good person, and having a positive attitude. That’s what I push: positive attitude and encouraging your teammates. It’s a team sport but also an individual one, and the kids need a lot of encouragement.”
As for the Unsung Hero award, Minnabarriet says it was nice to be recognized, but surprising.
“I have a lot of help with everything, from a great group of parents and volunteers. I’m very fortunate to work with a good group of people.”