Canada is sending down its best men’s senior slow-pitch softball players to square off against the best U.S. teams in the first-ever USA-Canada Senior Border Battle in men’s slow pitch softball, Aug. 3-5 at the Art Van Sports Complex in Plainfield Township.
Hosted by the West Michigan Sports Commission, the event is organized by the International Senior Softball Association (ISSA) and Slo-Pitch Ontario Association (SPO) to provide the best senior players in both countries an opportunity to participate in international competition. The event is being held for the first time, and it will alternate each year between the United States at the Art Van Sports Complex (AVSC) and Canada at an Ontario venue selected by SPO. In the off year, ISSA will host another slow-pitch senior event at the AVSC. This also is the first ISSA tournament ever held in Michigan.
“Michigan is a big slow-pitch softball state, so this is an ideal fit to have this tournament in our backyard,” said Katy Tigchelaar, WMSC director of marketing & events and local tournament director for the USA-Canada Border Battle. “We are thrilled to partner with ISSA on an annual senior softball event at the Art Van Sports Complex, and we hope to knock this first event out of the ballpark, literally, and continue to grow it in future years."
The event has 16 registered teams with 250 players ranging in age from 50 to 65-plus. The 12 U.S. teams hail from Florida, Illinois, Michigan (three teams), Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio (two teams), Texas and West Virginia. The four Canadian teams are comprised of players from cities throughout Ontario. The event is expected to generate approximately $200,000 in economic impact plus 400 hotel nights booked for both the players and an estimated 150 traveling spectators who will stay at the Best Western Hospitality Hotel & Suites, Comfort Inn Airport and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Grand Rapids Airport.
“We are very excited to work with the West Michigan Sports Commission for the inaugural Senior Border Battle that will feature some of the most outstanding senior players in the history of the sport, many of whom have been inducted in the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame,” said ISSA Executive Director RB Thomas, Jr. “The West Michigan Sports Commission staff has been excellent to work with to insure participants experience an outstanding, high-quality event.”
Tournament Details: The tournament features four age classifications – 50 to 54 years, 55 to 59, 60 to 64, and 65-plus – with four teams per age category (three U.S. teams and one Canadian team). Each U.S. team will play three preliminary games on Saturday against the respective Canadian team in each age division to determine the number one seeded USA Team to compete against the Canadian teams on Sunday. The top seeded team in each age bracket will play the equivalent Canadian team on Sunday for the Border Champion. Seeds 2 and 3 will play for the Bronze medal. Team awards will be given to the first, second and third place finishers in each age division. Individual awards (medals) also will be given to players on the top three teams. USA Border Champions will receive a berth to compete in the 2019 event in Canada.
"We can’t wait to participate in this unique initiative that brings an international level of competition to the most experienced slo-pitch players of our two countries, and we look forward to working with the ISSA and the West Michigan Sports Commission to make this an event to remember,” said Tom Buchan, CEO of the Slo-Pitch Ontario Association.
The tournament weekend begins Friday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. with a Home Run Derby that will pit three-man teams of the power hitters from each of the sixteen teams. The grand finale tournaments begin Sunday at 11 a.m. on the four fields.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit seniorsoftball.org/usa-canada-senior-border-battle.html.
Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteer scorekeepers are needed Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5 to fill approximately two-hour shifts. For information and to register as a volunteer, visit http://signup.com/go/TLAbuNS.
About the West Michigan Sports Commission: The non-profit West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) identifies, secures and hosts a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 664 sporting events and tournaments that attracted more than 1 million athletes and visitors, generating $307 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.
About the International Senior Softball Association: The International Senior Softball Association (ISSA) was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Manassas, Virginia. One of the nation’s leading sports organizations, the ISSA annually holds more than 25 championship events at venues across the United States for the senior division of the sport. The staff have been recognized nationally for the quality and sports tourism value of the events in their championship series. In 2015, the National Association of Sports Commissions recognized ISSA Founder and Executive Director RB Thomas, Jr. as the Outstanding Sports Event Organizer in the United States. For more information, visit seniorsoftball.org.
About the Slo-Pitch Ontario Association: The Slo-Pitch Ontario Association (SPO) was formed in 1982 in an effort to create more awareness of the sport of slo-pitch and to better communicate with its participants throughout Ontario. In 1992, SPO became a member of Softball Ontario and affiliated with Softball Canada, the officially recognized slo-pitch/softball organizations. Slo-Pitch Ontario has one of the largest provincial memberships in Canada. Slo-pitch softball is one of the fastest growing adult team sports in North America. More than 2.5 million Canadians play this recreational grassroots game each season. For more information, visit slopitch.org