Both Kindersley Royals teams won their respective tiers of provincials over the weekend, at home.
(Royals 1 pictured in white)
The teams were split in two at the beginning of the year thanks to a nice balance in ages, but also because it was a chance to set up one last storybook run for a group of boys with a lot of history together.
“They have had a few championships together,” said coach of Royals 1 Blain Hilbig, who is also a parent to two of the teams top players, “This group, they won hockey league and provincials in bantam. They won provincials in bantam baseball, they won the senior league as first year midgets a lot of them; and then also provincials this year so it’s been a lot of the same faces.”
The Royal’s 1 & 2 teams would stay separate and enter Tier 3 and Tier 5 respectively for provincials this year. Even with all the talent existing on both sides, they weren’t about to split up the teams.
“I think it was definitely something special for them at the beginning of the year. The coaches got together and decided to just split the teams up without tryouts and stuff,” explained Hilbig, “Focus on the Grade 10s and the Grade 12s, and then sprinkle in the Grade 11s that were there.”
Winning provincials was a special moment for both of the teams, and Royals 2 players were able to witness the moment their counterparts won the Tier 3 championship thanks to a slight planned break in their game. Because of Baseball Saskatchewan tournament format rules, the host team was forced to beat their opponent twice in a row to claim the Tier 5 title, but used that short amount of time in between to watch their mates celebrate something they would get to do just a few hours later
“It was really nice to be able to continue working with this group, and the goal is for the younger group to play together for the next couple of years as well.”
One thing that definitely adds to the confidence of a young ball player playing senior men’s can be having some success against the older crowd, a move that also prepares the team for 18U provincials when they finally face off against kids their own age.
Hilbig also mentioned another thing that helps get the kids up for playing senior ball is the reduced travel.
“Some of the other teams have doubleheader after doubleheader and all their weekends are taken up. We are able to play during the week which is nice, so the kids could have a bit of a break and get a bit of summer in on the weekends.”
Congrats to both Kindersley Royals 18U teams on their provincial titles!