Saying goodbye to the team know as 'The Combers'
One of the biggest and most rewarding projects that I've ever taken on has come to an end after 4 years. I have decided to say farewell to my fastpitch softball club - The Combers - as my schedule can no longer accommodate the commitment that is required to organize and manage a team. As I sit here and write in reflection, I do so with a bit of a weighted heart as I was very proud of my team, very grateful for the friendships that had formed which has enabled me to feel fortunate for the quality time spent. The Combers were a unique squad with a little bit of a story, considering a rather brief four year history. The Connaught League has been around for nearly fifty years in the Kitsilano Neighbourhood of Vancouver. I've been fortunate enough to have been playing in it since 2008. It was during the 2016 season when one of the teams folded a couple of games into the season due to a lack of players. I decided to step out of my cushy position as a member of a well - organized team that generally finished in first place, to take on and try to resurrect one with next to no players, no organization and with a history of last place finishes. My initial goal was to get through the season without forfeiting a game and I don't know how I did it, but, the goal was accomplished. I used every resource imaginable, including 2 cricket players from halfway around the world. We one 1 game, but earned the respect from the other teams. It was the second season that I was able to put my own touch on things. I scrounged up some old uniforms and had them repurposed with the help of my wife and a skilled seamstress friend. We officially became the Combers, began to look like a team and the off-season gave me the chance to begin to form a nucleus of players. I tried to gather players from every means possible. I began to ask almost everyone I came across and eventually, a team began to form.
Some notable success came via young Japanese baseball players that were either studying or on holiday work visas here in Vancouver. I targeted the ESL schools and with the help of my wife (she's Japanese), ads were placed on-line. As a result, the Combers' identity became associated with a lineup dotted with very talented Japanese-trained baseball players and at very key positions I will add. If my memory serves me well, The Combers fielded 13 Japanese players over the 4 years, 8 of which were full-time. The experience for me was quite valuable as I was able to mentor young adults coming from another country with baseball serving as our connector. A lot of time was spent off of the field and the thanks and gratitude that I received has touched me greatly. They have communicated that their Canadian ball experience was the highlight during their stay here in Vancouver! For that, I can't help but be proud. However, it was our entire group of guys that enabled such a dynamic to be experienced with their welcoming attitudes.
The core group that was able to form were of the utmost gentlemanly sort and we were able to present ourselves as a classy group of men that not only showed respect within the league - on and off the field - but towards each other. That indeed was my greatest goal achieved! I had the vision from the beginning to create a team that served as a comfortable, responsible and respectful space for a group of men to come together, meet, feel supported - be supported, and to have the ability to speak openly about where it was they found themselves in life. Our group of men, as a whole, did in fact form to create such a concept, and for that, I am most proud. The Combers uniform paid homage to all of those, to those of us, who have been impacted in life, in one way or another by mental health. A big green ribbon was sewn onto each jersey to visibly support mental health awareness.
So many proud thoughts and fond memories are flooding through my mind as I sit down, reflect and pen this little write-up. Not only has my Combers team proven so important in my life, but team sport in general has, and in this case - the sport and community of Fastpitch Softball. Like most other things in life, a trickle down effect becomes inevitable. The community that envelopes team sport is vast and as I sit here and think back and attempt to connect some dots, I can credit my friendships and the support that resulted, made possible by being a member of a team, with impacting so many pockets of my life! It was because of a teammate some years ago that led me to a job, and it was during that job that I was introduced to a man that has become an important mentoring influence in my life. I also ended up working for him and through him, I was further introduced to another man that has also become an important mentoring influence in my life. I was taught carpentry in a proper way and with patience, calmness and full respect! This learning has been invaluable with my sculpture oriented space work. It was another teammate that opened his home to me some years back when I really needed for a home to open up. His gesture and offering is something that allowed me to move forward in my life and it will never be forgotten and impossible to pay back! These are just a couple of examples of how things always seem to be connected in one sort of a way or another. I'll save the story of how I met my wife for another day, but, I can indeed trace it back to my association with team sport.
So here I write my farewell and my thanks to my team - The Combers - and I do so with such gratitude towards the fine gentlemen that were loyal to and supportive of me throughout our tenure. I, of course, made mistakes along the way, but I was able to learn so much about leadership, responsibility, human nature, and especially myself. It was such a scary endeavour to step into at the time, those 4 years ago, but one that has proven to be such an important influencing and learning chapter in my life!
Thank you fine gentlemen one last time. sincerely, Jamie Comeau