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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

73’s recognize Yellowjacket Midget travel team for its win record

Photo submitted by  Tim Law  

by Sylene Argent

Every athlete, no matter the sport, has his or her eyes set on winning the next championship and breaking personal records. It takes dedication from every member of any team to make it to the top. And, when that championship banner is earned and further raised, other athletes from the same hometown are sure to want to help celebrate that achievement.

  Before the puck dropped to begin the Tuesday, December 4 matchup against Lakeshore, the Essex 73’s took a moment to recognize the Essex Yellowjacket Midget Travel Team for having won the most Ontario titles of any age group in Essex Minor Baseball history.

  In total, the Essex Yellowjacket Midget Travel team, which is comprised of 16-year-old players, has won five provincial titles to date.

  The Essex 73’s, it was noted during the ceremony, was especially impressed with this baseball team’s accomplishments, including that it moved up a division to play teams from larger cities.

  In the 2018 baseball season, the Essex Yellowjackets Midget travel team won the “AA” championship, defeating teams of large cities, such as Barrie, Halton Hills, New Market, Ottawa, Leaside, and Ancaster. This was after defeating “AAA” teams in exhibition and tournament play of teams from Sarnia, Toronto, Windsor, and AJAX, information from the 73’s noted.

  Essex Yellowjacket Midget Travel Team Coach Glen Harnadek said moving up a division, or more, is unique. He said most towns similar in size to Essex stay in the “C” division, even if they win.

  Playing against larger centres often means playing against teams that host annual tryouts, where the Yellowjackets team players return. Harnadek said the majority of the athletes on this ball team have been together for eight years.

  The 2018 season, Harnadek said, was the first year this group of players played in the Midget Division, which includes up to 18-year-olds. “That is something else special. Even as a16-year-old team, we almost won our regular season and we won our playoffs in the Sun Parlour League.” When competing at the provincial level, the local team played other teams of 16-year-olds.

  When the Essex Yellowjacket Midget Travel Team started playing the larger centres, no one knew were Essex was, Harnadek said, but he noted they do now.  

  The Essex Yellowjackets Midget travel team was described as a tight-knit group, comprised of respectful athletes.

  “It is just a good group of ball players,” Harnadek said, adding the majority of the team’s athletes are from Essex, with a few from neighbouring towns.

  “They work hard. They are well behaved. They get along really well on-and-off the field,” the Coach said of the players on the Midget travel team. “They listen well and are respectful. We have never had a bad seed.”

  When one of the athletes on the team is struggling, “They pick each other up. No one gets down on them,” he noted.

  Harnadek said the players on the Midget travel team were really happy to learn the 73’s wanted to recognize their successes. “It was nice of them to think of us. We are thankful to the 73’s for recognizing the team.”  

  Though some of the ball players had other commitments, such as part time jobs, they were so moved by the recognition, every one of the baseball players made the ceremony, Harnadek said.

  For the 2019 season, the Essex Yellowjackets Midget Travel Team will lose a few players to the Selects. Harnadek said the team will pick up a few new players to make up the difference.

  During this on-ice ceremony, Essex 73’s President Gord Andry and Vice President Kris Wojnarowski presented each member of the local championship baseball team with a certificate of appreciation, in honour of the team’s 2018 Ontario Baseball Association All-Ontario Championship on behalf of the Essex 73’s Junior Hockey Club.


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