The Sandarac baseball diamonds in northwest Calgary were buzzing with activity on Sunday afternoon, as an inaugural girls baseball camp hit a home run.
The Calgary chapter of Girls with Game, a little-league Canada-wide initiative, held its first one-day baseball camp for girls aged four to 16.
Hilda Siemens, an organizer of the event, said they weren't expecting such a huge turnout.
"We honestly were hoping for about 50 girls and we have over 100 here. But we just [wanted to] keep it as wide open and as accessible to everybody [as possible]."
One of the aims of the day camp is to get girls involved in baseball and encourage them to stick with it. Often, Siemens said, girls begin to play softball or fast-pitch after a certain age.
"Softball is wonderful, but I just don't agree that girls need to be pushed [into it]. If they wanna play baseball, let them play baseball, and let's make opportunities for them to play baseball."
Siemens added that the group was intentional about the coaches they chose to run the event, picking an all-female roster made up of predominantly Team Alberta players.
Eighteen-year-old Calgarian Tyra Stanich is one of them. In addition to being on the Team Alberta roster, Stanich plays for the Chestermere crushers. She's the only girl on the team.
"Oh I boss [the boys] around," Stanich said. "It's pretty fun."
Stanich said she thinks the camp is crucial in offering support to female baseball players, especially younger girls. She added that due to the lack of female baseball leagues in the city and the province, girls who want to stay in the sport often end up playing on boys teams as she does now.
"When I was younger I knew I was better than half the boys, but as you get older they start to grow and treat you differently and it just kinda sucks."
She said she would love to see a female baseball league in Calgary in the future.
"If we had enough girls [at the camp] we could definitely make a baseball league for girls."
For Kyla Hiebert's seven-year-old daughter Raya, the camp is a chance to have some fun and meet other girls interested in baseball like her.
"I just think it's so great to encourage young girls to keep in sport," said Kyla.
"Reading the statistics of how many girls drop out of sport compared to boys I think it's really great to have more camaraderie with [other] girls playing sport and female role models."
As for Raya? She said her favorite part of the day was batting.