The Summer Slam
You may or may not know, but the first weekend of June is one of the most exciting times of the year at Together We Can. Sure, we love the fact that the dreaded winter is long behind us, tax season is almost over and our Annual General Meeting has just wrapped up, but the real treat is that The Summer Slam is on the docket. Over time, Recovery Ball has become a staple in the lives of many men and women from our community and beyond. And no, if you were wondering, we aren’t all ex-college players and high-level athletes. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the case. We’ve just found a safe place to build connection and be a part of something exciting.
Why We Play
We’re human, so saying that winning doesn’t matter wouldn’t be doing anyone justice; of course we like to win, but that’s not the reason we play. As we started building up our slo-pitch circuit, an amazing thing started happening: individuals started networking, smartphone-wielding online operators connected in person, exercise, laughter and empowerment all took place on a grand scale. To say that TWC pioneered Recovery Ball would be wholly inaccurate. No, we were lucky enough to have individuals within our organization find recovery leagues and tournaments already happening. It was people within our ranks, who, on their own time, realized the power behind the concept. They recognized that sports and recovery go hand in hand. We’ve doubled down on this idea.
How It Works
The most common thing we found when we asked people if they were interested in coming out and swinging the bat was that they didn’t know how they’d fit in. They felt intimidated and excluded – not by people, but by the fact that they didn’t know where to start. They had heard through the grapevine about the leagues and tournaments, whether Weekend Warriors, Fallen Warriors, or any of the many other ones. They knew that things were happening, but they didn’t know where to start or how to get in. We knew that this barrier needed to be removed, and right away at that. That’s where the beautiful cohesion of recovery and sports comes in.
The Inviting Nature Of Recovery
Anyone who’s been to a 12-Step meeting or any treatment centre that’s worth its weight knows that the foundational aspect of recovery is inclusion. Anyone, and I really mean anyone, is welcome. We don’t push you out because you’re broken, awkward, young, old, annoying or anything else. We understand what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. Addiction results in stigma; it results in missed opportunities and broken dreams. Once you’re in recovery, you’re part of our tribe, so you can safely let go of whatever was holding you back or keeping you down. Recovery ball is all about the newcomer, and making sure that they realize they’re welcome and a part of the team happens intrinsically. The politics of life? Those are left in the parking lot. We suit up and show up to let loose amongst our equals.
Part Of The Curriculum
At Together We Can, we’re always looking to enhance the offering we provide our clients. Our mission is to support men and families who desire a new life in recovery, and we realized early on that the best way to do that was to get buy-in. Not just from the man who’s being offered a chance to restore their diginity, but for the entire family. There are two types of families: the ones we have through blood, and the one we forge through steel. We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the bonds within our recovery family, which, in turn, shows people that they’re right where they’re supposed to be. Our program evolves, and over time sports have played a bigger and bigger role. People stay sober when they have a purpose, and playing ball helps provide that crucial element.
A Driving Force
Just after the turn of the century, 3 weeks sober and lacking purpose and direction, our Executive Director, Stacy Wilson, went into the donations bin, where he managed to acquire a ball glove. Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to the wonderful world of Recovery Ball. Quickly, it became part of the bedrock of his life and he has since gone on to become a staple in both the recovery and sports community. In 2015, when he took over the reigns at TWC, he realized that he wanted as many people as possible to have access to the pivotal opportunity of sports. The very next year, we launched our inaugural Summer Slam. This year will be the 4th consecutive tournament, and year after year, any client at TWC who wants to play is provided equipment, registration and transportation to an entire summer of action. Alongside the greater recovery community, we are also big backers of the Weekend Warriors Recovery Slo-Pitch Leauge.
When asked about why he puts such an emphasis on community, Stacy responded “from day one, I decided that bringing people together and giving them a safe place was vital: whether it’s the LGBTQ community at Alliance, Indigenous gentlemen at All My Relations, or literally everyone at Recovery Ball, we set out to alter and enhance the trajectory of as many lives as possible. To make that a reality, we need to be inclusive, we need to empower, and ultimately, we need to make people feel welcome”.
What It’s All About
The Summer Slam this year will consist of 28 teams each vying for a championship in their respective division. On the surface, the event is simply a slo-pitch tournament, but the reality is that it’s become much more than that. The showcase event now transforms the park into a hub for the entire recovery community. We’ll be playing host to children, families, and people in recovery, young and old. This event is not about TWC making money, far from it, in fact, the entire basis of The Summer Slam is to showcase what exactly recovery means. Recovery is about getting out and trying something new; it’s about fellowship, recovery is about being active and doing the things you love while around the people you care for. There will be live music, raffles, vendors, great food and most importantly, the forecast is calling for rays of sunshine.
We hope to see you among the throngs of people.
The Summer Slam will be held on June 1st and 2nd at Riverway Sports Complex, which is located at 8605 Nelson Ave, Burnaby.
Written for Together We Can by Tristan Elliott, a third-year BBA student who currently works as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator. He is passionate about issues affecting the local community, economy, and Canada as a whole.