Tak Niketas has been a little league volunteer in Victoria for almost a quarter of a century.
“I love it! It kind of brings me back to being here as a youth,” Niketas told CHEK News. “I played here as a kid, and my kids went through the park, so I just feel like I owe it to the community to be here.”
He started volunteering with the Beacon Hill Baseball & Softball Association when his kids were playing and never left.
“I did say in 2017 that I was gonna stop volunteering, but I kind of got dragged back in, people needed me, and I said, ‘Sure if you need me, I’ll be here!'”
And Niketas isn’t the only long-time volunteer at Beacon Hill, which has been fielding players since 1957.
“We have a few volunteers that have been doing this for two decades, going on three decades, and it’s amazing how many people’s lives they’ve touched,” said Chris Barrington-Foote, the association’s president.
“So for those people who’ve committed a large portion of their own life to create a positive influence in others, it touches your heart,” he said.
The association has more kids playing ball this year than ever — 525 plus players and 43 teams — and it wouldn’t be possible without dozens of volunteers, on the field and off.
“But we also ask our parents and our community members to volunteer almost daily, so really, this is participation for everybody, so once you’re involved, you are really involved!” said Barrington-Foote.
Baseball dad Dave Bercovitz is definitely very involved in coaching not one but two little league teams this year.
“It’s a lot better than watching kids play video games, so getting out here and playing ball and being a team is just awesome,” said Bercovitz.
Teamwork is one of the biggest lessons the kids learn here, and it goes far beyond the diamond.
“You have to get along with other people. Through life, through jobs. You’re working together for one goal, and I think that’s the best thing for kids to learn,” said Niketas.
“It’s just amazing to see how these guys improve, how these girls and guys improve, how we go from just running around to actually playing baseball and how everybody comes together,” said Bercovitz.
And for the volunteers that make it possible, nothing is more rewarding.
“This is a not-for-profit organization. No one is paid. We’re all doing this for the fun of it, and really the pay is to see all the smiles on all the players’ faces,” said Bercovitz.
“I just think if you want your community to be strong, I think that’s something everybody should do,” added Niketas.
“Volunteering — there’s nothing better than doing it!”