South Hill Sports Association Vancouver, British Columbia Over 50 years of Fastpitch Excellence The Association Proud sponsors of the Vancouver Grey Sox For over 50 years, South Hill Sports Association has been providing opportunities for amateur athletes. The mission of the Association is to promote, develop and enhance amateur sports. South Hill Sports Association is managed by an elected Board of Directors who volunteer their time to build a better community. South Hill has hosted numerous national and international tournaments and has considerable expertise in staging these events. During a normal year, the Association will host several provincial and invitational tournaments. These events draw people from all over the continent and bring money into the local economy. The Association provides opportunities for young people during the summer months. It has also created a South Hill Sports Hall of Fame in order to honor the past contributions of players, coaches, umpires, and builders and to encourage participation in the Alumni Association. The association has built a clubhouse with a concession and public washrooms, redeveloped two playing fields, one of them with lights and donated them to the City of Vancouver. The Association uses funds raised at various tournaments and games to maintain, upgrade, and pay utilities at the site. South Memorial Park (“The Hill”) Home of the Vancouver Grey Sox Located on 34 acres on the busy 41st Avenue near Fraser Street on the south slope of the city of Vancouver, South Memorial Park is a green oasis in the centre of the city. The park was acquired through a tax sale and was originally known as “Wilson Park.” It was designed as a memorial for soldiers who died in World War I and as a site for the Cenotaph. The park was opened on May 22, 1939 and rededicated on November 11, 1996 after the Cenotaph, the first built in Canada, was moved to South Memorial Park. The park is home to a wide range of athletic and cultural activities. Families spread their picnic blankets under numerous leafy shade trees while squirrels wait for their handouts. Children enjoy the swings and teeter-totters under the watchful eyes of their parents, who later indulge in a friendly game of soccer. The park is alive with multi-ethnic activities. Ducks paddle on the ponds while youngsters search the edges for frogs and tadpoles. Older siblings polish their serve on the tennis courts. On a corner diamond, Little Leaguers dream of a career in the “bigs” as the ball rolls through their legs. Local residents walk their dogs or take shortcuts through the park. In the middle of the park, joggers and walkers circle the track while a spirited group of white-clad cricketeers concentrate on their game. There’s a game for almost every taste: box lacrosse, rugby, softball, tennis, grass hockey, etc. For many years, South Memorial was the home of whippet racing. Softball has a long and storied history at The Hill. Generally regarded in British Columbia's Lower Mainland as the bastion of fastpitch softball, the park has hosted local, provincial, national and international tourna- ments for over 50 years. In 1996 a new field was installed at the main diamond and a second field has more recently been developed just west of the main diamond. The park is also the venue for an adult men's soccer league. The clubhouse is the site of numerous team or league meetings and other social events. Each year has seen further enhancements in the facility. Partnerships Over the past five decades, many great fastpitch teams have called South Memorial Park home. The Vancouver Blue Boys and Molson’s won numerous championships in the early days, while Doc’s Blues were worthy representatives in women’s softball. In the mid seventies the Magicians were a powerhouse team for several years. A team with the same “Magicians” name resurfaced in the early nineties, winning the highly competitive Nor-West League championship in 1990 and finishing fourth in the International Softball Congress (ISC) World Championships in 1992. Around the same time the Angels were winning tournaments for the women’s side. Several years ago, South Hill Sports Association formed a partnership with its Senior Men’s and Women’s teams with the goal of further developing softball in the area. At the same time, the Association encouraged midget and junior teams to play out of the park. This “club concept” of recruiting players at an early age and encouraging them to continue their development and participation during their lifetime is an approach that is widely used in New Zealand — a country that has produced many great fastpitch players and the last three World Championship national teams. South Hill and the Grey Sox forged a partnership in 2000 in order to provide a venue for young players to play and to give their teams an opportunity to play in the heart of the City. The Vancouver Grey Sox are the flagship team of the Hill. They are consistently ranked by the ISC as being among the elite teams in North America. The Sox captured the bronze medal at both the 2003 and 2004 Canadian Championship tournaments, and in 2007, they won the coveted gold. Two Grey Sox players, Derek Mayson and Rob Giesbrecht have been selected for the Canadian National Men's Fastball team, while Grey Sox head coach, John Stuart, has been chosen for its coaching staff. Grey Sox pitcher, Travis Price, has been picked for the US National Fastpitch squad. The South Hill Giants is another team sponsored by the Association. The Giants, who play in the Lower Mainland Premier League, won the bronze medal at last year's Senior B Provincial tournament. The park is also home field for the South Hill Spirits, a women's team who play in the New Westminster Senior Women's Fastball League. Other teams from the Connaught Men's Fastpitch League and several minor girls' fastball teams play regularly at the Hill. Several Slo-pitch leagues operate out of the park: South Hill Old Boys (over 45); South Hill Older Boys (over 50); the Vancouver Recreational Softball League and the VIP Mixed Orthodox League. The Hill is indeed a major hub of softball activity in the province. We have great expectations for the continued success of our teams in local and national competition. By sharing funding and management responsibilities, the organizations will be able to field teams at the top level and bring championships home to the city of Vancouver.
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