It certainly hasn’t been an easy road to get the Nazko ball field fixed, but all the hard work and the ups and downs will soon pay off when the community hosts a ball tournament on the refurbished field this coming weekend.
The community has been working hard to fix the field, but the work on the field was almost cancelled and rescheduled until next year due after Heather Laurent lost her younger brother, Albert, who died suddenly on July 25 in Quesnel at the age of 26.
“The shock and news took a toll on me personally,” Laurent said in an email. “I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to continue on with the baseball field work.”
After her brother’s funeral Aug. 9 in Nazko, Laurent went down to the ball field to get some fresh air and peace of mind.
“I paced back and forth in front of the concession stand, seeking a sign to move forward with this project,” she said. “As I picked up a broom and I started sweeping the cement, I came across my baby brother’s name carved in the cement. At that moment, I got the sign that I was seeking. I then made the decision to continue on with this project.”
Since then, a handful of community members have gathered each day to help clean up the ball field and get it ready for an upcoming tournament. David Porter, a co-owner of CanLava Mining Corp., and the community of Nazko were planning to do a lot of work Sept. 2, 3 and 4.
The newly-refurbished ball field will be put to use right away, as Laurent has organized the first annual Chuntezni’ai Baseball Tournament for Sept. 6-8.
Laurent says a total of seven teams have entered, including one in honour of her brother, the late Albert Mckenzie. The team is called Team Albie, honouring Mckenzie by using his nickname.
Laurent encourages anyone who would like to support their event and enjoy a weekend of watching baseball to come to Nazko for the Chuntezni’ai Baseball Tournament. She says the ball field will be busy from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and there will be a concession available all weekend. Throughout the tournament, there will also be two bat draws, a home run derby and additional raffles.
There will be a dance Friday night and Saturday night with live music by Jerry Laurent, a member of the band Carrier Nation Reloaded.
This work all started when Laurent, who grew up in Nazko, moved back to the community and noticed the lack of options for local youth to entertain themselves.
The mother of five saw that the local ball field had fallen into disrepair in the last decade and was particularly damaged after the 2018 floods. Fences were destroyed and the bleachers were no longer fit to sit upon.
Laurent and community members began the daunting task of bringing the ball field back to life, and she reached out to local businesses, including CanLava Mining Corp. and Emcon Services.
— with files from Ronan O’Doherty