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Trail Little League to host provincial and national baseball championships

‘Hosting the provincials two years earlier will be like a little test drive for the nationals’
Trail Little League is preparing for the 2026 provincial and 2028 Canadian championships. Photo: Jim Bailey

Trail Little League stepped up to the plate and belted not one but two out of the park as it was awarded the 2026 B.C. and the 2028 Canadian major baseball championship tournaments.

Longtime coach and organizer D.J. Ashman, who played on the 1990 Canadian Little League championship winning Trail team, is thrilled and determined to get it done right.

The city was on board when Trail Little League submitted the application three years ago, and when the national little league body approved it, the Trail board voted yes.

“The Canadians is a big deal, it’s like hosting the World Series,” said Ashman. “So we just want everything up to standard, and hosting the provincials two years earlier will be like a little test drive.”

The local Little League program and its volunteers have a lot to look forward to, and a lot of work to do as they prepare for the respective championships.

The last time Trail hosted the Nationals was in 1987, and the 2028 tournament may be the last opportunity for smaller municipalities like Trail, a five-time national champion, to host the tournament.

“Little League Canada is saying that going forward they only want to have the Canadians in bigger cities that are right next to international type airports, so this will probably be one of the last times it’s ever in a small town,” said Ashman.

The next step for Trail Little League is to form a planning committee of largely parent organizers. They also hope to lean on the expertise of past organizers like Dan Ashman, Keith Smyth, Brian Pipes and Doug Stanley, who were all instrumental in planning the Babe Ruth World Series at Butler Park in 1995.

“It would be great to have them as sounding boards, to make sure that we cover things and that we are getting everything done properly.”

D.J. Ashman has coached baseball in Trail for 25 years, and says leading the All Stars into the Nationals will be the highlight of his coaching career, which can only be topped if they make it to Williamsport and the Little League World Series.

He has spoken to likely candidates for assistant coaches in former professional baseball player Chris Kissock and longtime player/coaches in Jim Maniago and Jason Startup; coaches that can nurture and develop the up-and-coming All Stars, who are currently seven and eight years old.

“My goal is to have a rock star coaching staff you know will come help us take this thing home.”

Even more fitting, Trail Little League will celebrate 75 years of fielding baseball for youths age 5-to-12 in 2028.

Little league baseball held its first formation meeting in Trail on April 11, 1953, led by its first president Bart Pope.

Four teams sponsored by Canadian Legion, Kinsmen, Gyro and Rotary clubs played in that opening season with managers Andy Bilesky, Don Ireland, Rico Martin and Bus Algar leading the way.

Hosting the provincial and national championships will also bring benefits to the larger West Kootenay economy says Ashman.

“It will be absolutely massive, the hotels will be full and the restaurants, and there will be people coming from Vancouver to Glace Bay (Nova Scotia) that will come just to watch the tournament.

“It will be absolutely amazing for our local economy.”

The Provincials are played in July, while all the games at Nationals will be played at Andy Bilesky Park over nine days in the first two weeks of August.

For a start, upgrades will be needed to the fencing, shoring up of the bank beyond left-centre field, leveling of the field, added bleachers and a potential concession expansion, added Ashman.

“CBC or Sportsnet will be involved, they’re going to be coming here, they’ll be filming games. It’s going to be unreal!”

The organizing committee will be looking for volunteers and sponsors as the planning process continues; stay updated or contact Trail Little League at or follow them on facebook.

Jim Bailey

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