Derek Bouma might be considered something of an initiator and the elementary school teacher is doing it again.
This time the grade 6-7 teacher at King George VI Public School in Sarnia is helping to organize a 12-team two pitch baseball tournament that will take place at Corunna Athletic Park in Corunna on Thursday, May 10 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The event is the culmination of a few weeks of practice by students, many of whom might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in any organized sports, says Bouma, who last year held a mini version involving just five teams.
That tournament was held at King George and was organized by Bouma and Marie McNally, a now-retired teacher from Cathcart Boulevard Public School in Sarnia.
“It went very well,” said Bouma, prompting him and a few other teachers to expand the initiative.
When the teachers approached the school board for assistance with funding the event, when they were told no money was available they decided to proceed, working out the details to make the event a reality.
That included getting St. Clair Township to donate the use of the Cathcart Athletic Park in recognition that three of the schools involved—Col. Cameron, Sir John Moore, and Mooretown—are in the township.
The organizers are also partnering with the local Optimist Club, which is selling hot dogs and hamburgers, splitting the proceeds with the group.
“We’ll be donating our half to help with some athletic programs, although we haven’t decided where exactly,” said Bouma.
The initiative is important to Bouma and the other teachers because of what it means to the students.
“We still have kids that have never played a lot of sports and this is an opportunity for them to get involved, giving them a taste of what it’s like to be on a team,” he said.
That includes at least one special needs student who will have a fellow student helping out on the field on Thursday.
Schools involved in the event include Bridgeview, Cathcart, Confederation, Errol Village, King George, High Park, London Road, P.E. McGibbon, and Watford in East Lambton.
“That’s a 45-minute drive for them, so it’s quite something,” said Bouma, who later this month will be co-hosting the fifth annual Becky Bouma Believe golf tournament, an event that honours his late wife, who passed away in April 2013 from complications related to leukemia.
Bouma and others involved in the golf tournament raise between $10,000 and $15,000, with proceeds going to a family that can benefit from the spirit of generosity his wife showed to others when she was alive.
“She would have appreciated what we’ve been able to do,” said Derek Bouma.
The golf event has its own Facebook page.