Softball is one of the few games that people can play throughout their lives. It's a challenging game at the Learn to Play (the beginner level), lots of good ball into the teenage years, and continues to be a fun game to play as an adult - many people continue to play well into their 60's and beyond or play at office get-to-gethers. The main difference between baseball and softball is that softball uses a larger ball (11 inch circumference in the younger divisions and 12 inch circumference in Peewee and above), an underhand pitch (windmill), and shorter basepaths - making for a much more exciting game to play!
Girls softball is an Olympic Sport and the college program in the US and Canada is growing - SFU has an established program. Many local girls are now playing ball in the College Programs and getting some or all of their tuition paid for. In many cases, it's more than tuition: Colleges are paying for accomodation and books.
The boys fastpitch softball program is well established across Canada and around the world. Many young men continue to play the game as adults in Fastball and Slo-Pitch. While lots of boys quit playing baseball at 13, their experience as a Fastpitch Softball player is just beginning. Victoria has been the "hotbed" of Men's Senior A Fastpitch for many years beginning with the Victoria Bates and moving on to the Payless, Royals, . . . Travellers.
While some players do move on to College or International fame, most players learn skills that will help them thoughout their lives: personal growth and playing as a member of a team.
Unlike other sports that require expensive equipment and facilities, the basic softball equipment - a glove and appropriate shoes - is relatively cheap. Registration fees differ from park to park but are less than $100 for the 11 year olds and over and much less for the 10 years and under. Registration fees include bats, balls, catchers gear, insurance, etc. Some parks require players to purchase their own helmets or other small pieces of equipment but the bottom line is that softball is a relatively inexpensive game to play.
The age divisions include:
All ages are determined by how old you will be in that calendar year. For example, someone born anytime in 1999 will be 10 years old in 2009 - similar to the school system.
Squirts and older (the Minor Divisions): teams are broken into A, B, and C levels. In very rough terms, about 10% play A (very competitive), 25% play B, and 65% play C. All teams can play for the District Championship which can qualify them to go to Provincial Championships. Every player and every team has a shot at Provincials unlike other softball organizations that only select All Star Teams. In the older divisions there's also Western Canadian or Canadian Championships available for A and B teams.
SVI League play includes 14-16 games against other teams at comparable age and skill levels. Most teams also enter some optional tournaments. Tournaments are held on the South Island and around the Province. It's up to an individual team to decide if they want to register for these tournaments -- "road trips" are lots of fun for players and families.
How? Currently there's about a dozen associations on the South Island. Some offer a Learn to Play program (5-10 years), some offer only Girls programs, some have Boys and Girls, some have only older teams, etc. Contact any member of the SVI Executive for some advice on who to contact or start with the local club closest to where you live.