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Girls with game: Whalley vets recall Little League baseball days, urge others to play

This summer, Baseball BC brings an all-girls league to Lionel Courchene Park in Surrey
Baseball player Niki Boyd in Team Canada colours several years ago. Boyd, a Whalley Little League hall-of-famer, encourages girls to play baseball.

With more and more girls playing baseball with Whalley Little League and on other ball diamonds across B.C., it's a trend that Niki Boyd loves to see.

Boyd, former national team member, is a Whalley hall-of-famer who grew up 10 minutes from the park on University Drive, and continues to play ball into her early 30s.

"My four older brothers all played there, too, so I just followed what they were doing," Boyd told the Now-Leader in a recent phone call.

"As a kid I just couldn't stop thinking about (baseball), and whenever I was there at the park, I was playing," she added. "I watched it on TV and wanted to keep learning, and it's obviously a sport where you can learn something new every day. I love that aspect about it."

At Whalley Athletic Park, Little League closing ceremonies were held Saturday, June 15, with tournaments and playoffs to come this month and into July. Schedules, club history and other details are featured in the 2024 season program.

Boyd and others who played in Whalley, including Sydney Elrick and Stephanie Koenigsfeld (nee Carlson), urge girls to get involved in the game.

Another Whalley veteran is U.S. soccer star Sydney Leroux, a Surrey-raised athlete who played on the Major Allstars team of 2002. The squad almost made it to Williamsport that year, but struck out in the Canadian championships. In 2017, Leroux was inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence.

Koenigsfeld is now married and living in Ocala, Florida, where she coaches the baseball team of her two young boys.

"My career started with baseball and I moved over to softball, which brought me down here to Florida, and I played across Canada and throughout the United States," Koenigsfeld explained.

Back in her Whalley days, she lived in Guildford, graduated from Kwantlen Park Secondary, then went to college stateside.

"I started playing baseball off of the pitching machines at Whalley when I was four, and I played there until I was 15," Koenigsfeld added. "Based on what my parents have always told me, it sounds like I loved it immediately. I really have loved baseball with all of my heart."

Boyd, who played shortstop and also outfield, has travelled the world on baseball teams including several of Canada's World Cup squads from 2012 to 2018. Today, she plays on a competitive Badgers team of women at diamonds across Metro Vancouver.

"I definitely encourage girls to play baseball," Boyd said. "There's a lot of doors that are opening up nowadays and opportunities at higher levels, and obviously there's a lot of girls out there who are making things happen for themselves. They're working hard and they're getting seen by men's teams."

Gavin Burke, Whalley's 1st vice-president, said 41 girls are currently registered to play for the club, or 12 per cent of all players.

"I’ve been with the league 25 years and I have noticed a much higher participation of girls, from maybe single figures just 10 years ago," Burke noted.

"We’ve reached out to Baseball BC to understand how their programming can assist development of girls registered at Whalley," he added. "Next season we're planning to offer girls-only clinics, tournaments and events and promote any opportunities offered outside our club. One day, I would love to see girls registration strong enough that all-girls teams could compete against boys."

This summer, Baseball BC brings an all-girls league to Lionel Courchene Park in Surrey to help grow the game among female players in this province.

“It’s the first (league) of its kind in B.C.,” said league co-ordinator Scott MacKenzie, director of operations for Baseball BC. “It’s something that we’ve been wanting to execute for many, many years now, and it’s finally come to fruition.”

Last February a call was issued for young girls (aged seven to 12) to play in the new league. Details are found on the website

Whalley vet Koenigsfeld met her baseball-playing husband at Valdosta State University in Georgia. In the future, if the couple ever gave birth to a girl, her mother would encourage that girl to play ball.

"I think I would set her down the same path that I played, start her off with baseball and kind of see where that takes her," Koenigsfeld said. "Then, you know, if one day she transitions to softball, I think that would be great.

"Quite a few young little girls play in my boys' league, and they're doing very well," the coach added. "The teams are pretty blended with boys and girls, and it's enjoyable."

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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