Baseball is alive and well in the Peach City.
Last weekend U13 player Mason Sherburne and his coach Rob Burnett became the first ever South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association (SOMBA) members to win B.C. Minor Baseball (BCMA) awards.
SOMBA was also the only multiple award-winning association in the province.
As the U13 player of the year, Sherburne was recognized not only for his outstanding performance at the provincials, leading his team to a silver medal.
“How he carried himself and his sportsmanship was a really big part of that as well,” said Penticton’s Iain MacIntyre, BCMA first vice president and SOMBA coach. “He’s a very talented kid, a very humble kid who is hard-working and very coachable.”
For Sherburne, the award came as a surprise.
“I never would have expected that,” said Sherburne, a 13-year-old grade 8 student at KVR Middle School. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates. It’s just super special.”
Sherburne was also quick to thank his award-winning coach, Burnett.
“He’s great,” Sherburne said. “He’s taught me so much. I wouldn’t be who I am without him helping.”
One day, Sherburne said he hopes to play in the big league.
“I want to go all the way,” he said. “I work really hard to do that, but it’s going to be a tough road for sure.”
According to Burnett, who won the U13 coach of the year award, being a great coach is about more than winning games.
“My main goal with coaching baseball is to try to teach these kids life lessons that they can learn from team sport, hard work, accountability, being a good teammate,” said Burnett, who has been a SOMBA coach for the past seven years.
Not a “screamy” coach, Burnett said he likes to keep things fun and has developed a strong relationship with the kids.
“They’re like friends of mine,” he said. “It’s really complex, especially with this age group. You’re a cheerleader, you’re a coach, you’re a psychologist. There are so many hats a coach has to wear.”
MacIntyre said Burnett has the unique ability to keep players engaged at practices he puts on for the entire association.
“The kids in Penticton are lucking to have him,” he said.
“We’re very much moving in the right direction,” MacIntyre added. “Penticton baseball is as popular as it’s been going 15, 20 years back.”
Registration for the upcoming season can be completed on the SOMBA website: http://www.pentictonminorbaseball.com.