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    Oshawa’s Baker Park celebrates 50 years

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    OSHAWA Families whose children play for Baker Park in Oshawa parks sports league are celebrating a major milestone this weekend with the park 50th anniversary.

    The Baker Park opener on May 31 will double as the anniversary celebration with food, games, prizes and more. at the park off Parklane Avenue.

    Part of the Neighbourhood Association Sports Committee which operates under the Oshawa Central Council of Neighbourhood Associations, Baker Park is one of 18 parks in the league offering local children the opportunity to play soccer, softball and hockey.

    The OCCNA was launched in 1946 and since then thousands of children in the community have participated in its programs. About two decades later, Baker Park was founded in 1964 with the goal of giving boys the opportunity to play hockey. wholesale jerseys An outdoor rink once sat where the tennis courts in the park are currently located.

    The park association evolved to organize dances for both adult and youth. While the dances have been phased out, the park now offers hockey, soccer and softball for children of both genders. The park takes in members from the area bounded by Rossland Road to the north, Townline Road to the east, King Street in the east and the Harmony Creek in the west.

    Pat Durack is the president of both Baker Park and the OCCNA. His wife, Deena Durack, is the treasurer for Baker Park. The two began their involvement when their children, now 22 and 25, began playing sports. Like the other administrators and coaches in the league, they do it all as volunteers.

    years ago someone said we need some help with the park, can you come out and volunteer, said Ms. Durack.

    Now, Ms. Durack daughter is a volunteer for Baker Park and like many of the children who go through the program, she learned life lessons about volunteering and giving back to the community through participating in the parks league.

    learn life skills like team building and being respectful, said Ms. Durack.

    For some families, it a multi generational thing.

    you talk to the some of the parents, they say played for Baker Park and they very proud of the fact that they played for Baker Park, said Ms. Durack.

    remember the tournaments and stuff like that, said Mr. Durack of players who have graduated out of the program. still have kids in their 20s calling me coach.

    While affiliated with their local park, the kids who play for Baker now play at fields and arenas across Oshawa.

    strongly identify with the park, said Ms. Durack. love wearing the Baker Park jersey, they love playing with the kids they go to school with.

    On Tuesday night, the rain held off as a group of seven and eight year old girls played soccer on a pitch at Ritson Fields. Parents and relatives sat in folding chairs on the sideline, watching their daughters in maroon jerseys run across the field while keeping an eye on younger siblings darting around.

    Sandra Hollinshead was there for her eight year old daughter Aria.

    plays for the soccer team, my son plays for the baseball team and so far it been a positive experience, she said.

    The kids are new to Baker Park this year, but not the parks league.

    a great organization, at the end of the year they have their big tournament and festival so they love it, said Ms. Hollinshead.

    Belinda and Derek Ginter were cheering on their seven year old daughter Natel.

    The family moved to Oshawa from Ajax last year and decided to enroll Natel in soccer.

    heard great things from other people who said this was a great league, said Mr. Ginter.

    families helped each other out and this is a good community, added Ms. Ginter.

    Numbers for the league ebb and flow. Ms. Durack said Baker Park used to have 22 soccer teams, now there are nine. Meanwhile Kedron Park in northeast Oshawa is booming as residents move into newly constructed subdivisions.

    This year about 1,500 kids will play soccer in the NASC, another 500 to 600 will play softball and between 900 and 1,100 will play hockey.

    Pressures on the parks league include the wide variety of other activities now available for kids and the need for parents and members of the community to volunteer. At one point recently, Baker Park risked losing its hockey teams until a parent stepped up to serve as hockey chair for the park.

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    Aakash Budholia
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