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Slo-pitch Brings Staff Together

After more than two years of isolation, Laura Severn was looking for a way to help the staff at Communitas Supportive Care Society reconnect. Many staff members had been working from home and are just coming back to the office. Others who serve in home living or day service settings had not had regular opportunities to connect with their colleagues. As the Occupational Health and Safety Facilitator, Laura wanted something that would encourage health and also bring people together in community. The answer was softball.

Laura cheers on the Commuintas Diamond Dogs from the sidelines (photo: Krista Petrie)

“The past couple of years have been hard on many people, myself included,” she says. “Creating a softball team has been a good way to reignite that sense of community and belonging that Communitas embodies.”

She began to explore options and found the Abby Mixed Slo-Pitch League. She chatted with a few staff people whose positive response encouraged her to work at forming a team.  More than twenty people responded.

Some of the Communitas Diamond Dogs: (top) Laura, David, Micah, Layne (middle) Karyn, Naomi, Katherine, Richard, (bottom) Justin, Brian, Jazzlyn, Sheral, and Vicky. (Photo: Krista Petrie)

They had a team, they already had equipment (shared from one of Communitas’ mental health services), they knew where they could get jerseys. All they needed was a name. Vicky Manderson, who manages Supported Independent Living, recalled the TV series “Ted Lasso” and the show triggered an idea.

“In the show, Coach Lasso and a few other guys start the “Diamond Dogs”, where they talk about their issues in life, support each other, and solve problems. It’s very sweet,” Vicky says. “I thought the name would be great for a softball team because of its positive connotations and, well, it fits with a baseball diamond.”

Go team! ( photo: Krista Petrie)

And so Communitas Diamond Dogs were born. Laura is very excited about the way the team reflects the organization.

“It’s an inclusive team that brings together people of all different skill levels and from different areas within Communitas,” Laura says. “It’s a great wellness activity. We get to spend time with our awesome coworkers who we might not have met otherwise. We get to build each other up and get some exercise while we’re at it.”

Naomi appreciates the team camaraderie (photo: Vicky Manderson)

Naomi Lomavatu is relatively new to Abbotsford and new to Communitas, where she works in Human Resources (HR.) She joined the Diamond Dogs because she wanted to get more involved with her community.

“The best part of being on the team is getting to know other staff that I wouldn’t otherwise interact with during a work day,” she says. “I haven’t played very much softball and everyone is incredibly encouraging.”

Richard enjoys the fun despite being “underdogs” (photo danmansell.com)

Richard Tang is a mental health worker with Communitas. He joined the team because he was looking for a social activity that would allow him to get to know his colleagues and make new friends.

“So far it’s been a great time being part of the Communitas Diamond Dogs,” he says. “It’s fun times on the field, cheering each other on, knowing we’re the underdogs in this league!”

“I also enjoy playing baseball. The best part of being on the team would have to be the people. Everyone is encouraging and friendly. It is a great group of people! ” – David Wiebe (photo: danmansell.com)
“I joined because I wanted to play baseball again. The best part of doing this is the chance to be out in the field.” – Justin Beals (photo: Vicky Manderson)
Layne Bieber, HR manager, heads for first! (photo: danmansell.com)

For Katherine Varney, who also works in HR, it was a chance to do something she’d always wanted to do but never had the courage to try: join an official team.

“This gave me the opportunity to try out and the team is so encouraging,” Katherine says. “No matter what happens, the team is always saying ‘good job out there!’ Overall, we just want to have fun but we definitely give it all we’ve got.”

Micah contemplates the irony of the situation but despite the signage, the Diamond Dogs definitely hit the field! (photo: Krista Petrie)

The team plays twice at week either at Matsqui Village Park or Exhibition Park. The season goes until the end of June. Laura says the team welcomes spectators.

“Come out and cheer us on!”

The pre-game pep talk. (photo: Krista Petrie)

To do that, check out the team schedule – the team will appreciate your support!

Being part of a supportive team is one of the many perks of working at Communitas.

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