Canada is sending its best senior slow-pitch softball players to square off against the best U.S. teams in the USA-Canada Senior Border Battle in men’s slow pitch softball, Aug. 5-7 at the Meijer Sports Complex in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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 first came to West Michigan in 2018 and was intended to alternate each year between the United States at the Meijer Sports Complex and Canada at an Ontario venue selected by SPO – but due to the pandemic, it is returning for the first time since then.
“This is a special international tournament that we are thrilled to bring back to Michigan after the pandemic-related hiatus,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission who bid on and won this repeat tournament. “We are honored to host this international event again and hope for a long and successful partnership going forward, showcasing the premier event at our state-of-the-art Meijer Sports Complex.”
The event has 20 registered teams with 350 players ranging in age from 40 to 65. The U.S. teams in the past have hailed from Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia. The Canadian teams are comprised of players from cities throughout Ontario. The event is expected to generate approximately $485,650 in economic impact plus over 400 hotel nights booked for both the players and an estimated 150 traveling spectators.
“We are very excited to be working once again with the West Michigan Sports Commission for the 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 into 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 as we re-establish this fun, international tournament where the players will experience an outstanding, high-quality event.”
The tournament features five age classifications – Men’s 40, 50, 55, 60, and 65 – with three teams per age category selected by ISSA. Each U.S. team will play three preliminary games on Saturday in each age division to determine the number one seeded USA team to compete against the Canadian teams 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 2023 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 again to make this an event to remember,” said Tom Buchan, CEO of the Slo-Pitch Ontario Association.
The tournament weekend begins Friday, Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. with a Home Run Derby that will pit three-man teams of the power hitters from each of the U.S. teams. The grand finale Border Champion gold-medal games for the tournament begin Sunday on fields 5-8 of the Meijer Sports Complex.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit seniorsoftball.org/usa-canada-senior-border-battle.html.