Bob Haney Tournament next weekend

Since its nadir a few short years ago when the tournament drew all of half a dozen teams, the Bob Haney Memorial Little League Tournament, held in conjunction with the Colville Rendezvous In The Park celebration, has grown considerably. As of late last week, Tournament Executive Director Bob Meshishnek and his capable volunteer staff had recruited a field of 20 teams that will play in two divisions (separate brackets for 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds). Those 20 teams will likely swell Colville’s Rendezvous weekend population by from 350 to 400 people. The Colville Kiwanis Club, city of Colville and Colville Chamber of Commerce took the tournament over three years ago. The tournament field has increased each year since that time. “In our first year (three years ago), we had eight teams in a 12-year-old bracket,” Meshishnek, the Kiwanis Club’s Commissioner of Baseball and City of Colville Police Chief, explained. In 2009, we had 12 teams, and last year, we had a 14-team field with both 10-year-old and 12-year-old brackets.” Although Meshishnek conceded that the tournament and his volunteers could probably handle a field of 26 teams, a 20-team field is more workable and comfortable. “In theory, we have the facilities to run a 26-team tournament,” Meshishnek said with a smile. “In theory. “But we want to provide quality baseball for a reasonable price. We want to make sure the tournament is run well and the facilities are quality and everybody has a good experience here.” Since the Kiwanis, Chamber and city of Colville aren’t hosting and running a Little League baseball tournament as some sort of fund-raiser, they are able to keep entry costs down ($100 per team). “We are easily the cheapest tournament around,” Meshishnek said, adding that “this isn’t some kind of fund-raiser…it’s a baseball tournament…with all the great partnerships we have, we are able to keep costs down.” This year’s tournament will feature a dozen 12-year-old teams and eight more 10-year-old teams in the two brackets. The deadline for entry was last week. In the tournament field this year are three Colville teams, three more teams from Chewelah, entries from Spokane, Colfax, Riverside, Deer Park, Priest River, Idaho (two teams) and teams from Whitefish and Kalispell, MT (three teams). Last year’s tournament was run with a staff of 22 (administrative staff, field staff and umpires). There will be at least that many when the tournament opens on August 5. Meshishnek knows too well what happens when there aren’t enough volunteers to cover what has evolved into an ambitious undertaking for a small town. “The hard part with volunteers is maintaining them year-around,” Meshishnek said. “I have a great core group of volunteers who know what they are doing and do a great job. That’s a key in being able to run a tournament of this scale.” Some of the key volunteers include Director of Facilities, Jeff Pitts, Tournament Director for 12-year-olds, Dr. Ed Johnson, and Tournament Director for 10-year-olds, Boo Morrison. Colville Chamber of Commerce Assistant Manager Debbie Garringer is also a key cog in the operation. Meshishnek said he can certainly use more volunteer help at tournament time. “If somebody is interested in helping out, we would love to have them,” the chief of police said. “After all, we wouldn’t be able to do this without a great group of volunteers. It’s our volunteers and the partnerships that make this tournament work.” The two division tournament will start at 2 p.m., Friday, August 5 on four fields (Colville City Park field and three fields at Vaagen Softball Complex (fields will be converted for Little League Baseball use). If other fields need to be utilized, the fields behind Colville Junior High School will serve as overflow, according to Meshishnek. Games will run throughout the afternoon on Friday, all day Saturday (starting at 8 a.m.) and on Sunday. Games will start every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the tournament, the annual Opie-Coxie Memorial Foundation Baseball Skills Competition will be held late Saturday afternoon (city park field) of tournament weekend. That competition will start at about 4:30 p.m.