When the local women’s baseball competition failed to run in 2018 due to a lack of teams, Lisa Klynnyk knew something had to be done.
The competition, which had been running since 2006, had seen up to nine teams take part in the comp but the numbers started to dwindle to the point where only three clubs were able to field a team. So Klynnyk, the Woden Rebels captain, brought all the clubs together to find a way for the competition to make a quick recovery.
“A couple of years ago, we were on the front foot of women’s sport and every club in Canberra had a team, and some clubs had multiple teams,” Klynnyk told Region Media. “We started to think we were reaching a point where we could have grades but then numbers started to drop.
“We had such a successful competition for so long that I just thought it had to just be a hiatus. So with the help of Baseball Canberra, I initiated a group of people from each of the clubs to get together to focus on getting the women’s competition back up and running.”
After a strong recruitment drive, five teams will take to the field in 2019: the Belconnen Bandits, Tuggeranong Vikings, Ainslie Gungahlin Bears, Woden Rebels and the Kambah Eagles.
Klynnyk said all the hours she volunteered were worthwhile just to give a pathway to the next generation of players.
“It is so important to have a pathway for girls,” Klynnyk said. “At Rebels, we have two young girls who have represented the ACT in under 13s at nationals alongside the boys. I don’t want to lose them because they don’t want to play with 17-year-old boys in a couple of years.
“It is really important they have somewhere to go. Also, if you say to people who aren’t involved in baseball that there is a women’s competition, they are surprised women play baseball, so we are always encouraging people to try it out.”
To encourage even more people to join the competition, Baseball Canberra has significantly reduced the registration fees. General manager Greg Kent said baseball, by nature, is an expensive sport, so the organisation decided to take away financial barriers that could stop women from playing.
“We decided to drop the fees for the women and the masters because by the time you pay the Baseball Australia fee, Baseball Canberra fee and a club levy, it can climb up to $450 to play,” Kent said. “So we decided to cap our fees at $60, so the maximum you pay is $180.
“We have also heard that some clubs are not going to even charge for their club component.”
The relaunch of the local competition has come at the right time for Baseball Canberra, as they wait to see if their proposal to join the inaugural Australian Baseball League women’s competition is successful. Tuggeranong Vikings captain Kristol Pyke, who is the coach in waiting if the bid is successful, said now is the time for women’s baseball.
“There has certainly never been the opportunity to have a professional women’s league in Australia so people have been forced to travel overseas to achieve that dream,” Pyke said. “To help young girls that watch the Cavalry or who play tee-ball see there is a pathway from the grassroots all the way to getting paid to do what you love would be incredible.”