The inaugural Dale Pollock Memorial Softball

by | Sep 28, 2022

The inaugural Dale Pollock Memorial Softball game delivers fun, smiles
and chance for his son to play his first ball game

Special Olympians rally for win in the first of an annual game in memory
of an officer dedicated to both the Woodstock Police Force and Special
Olympics

The Western Valley Special Olympic softball rallied late to win the
inaugural Dale Pollock Memorial Softball Game 17-16. The Special
Olympians came from behind in the final inning to edge the combination
team of the Woodstock Police Force and First Responders.

Pollock, a 14-year veteran of the Woodstock Police Force, died suddenly
in August 2021.

He had a strong connection with the Special Olympics program, and the
Western Valley Region Special Olympic community deeply misses the
long-time softball fan.

Pollock’s 10-year-old son Spencer got a chance to take part in the game,
playing ball for the first time.

He said he made sure to hit it for his dad.

Pollock’s widow Dawn Kinney said her late husband would have been “so
proud.”

“It touched my heart that the Woodstock Police Force did the game as a
memorial for my husband,” she said.

The Western Valley Special Olympians brought a strong record into the
game.

They played in the River Valley Softball League, giving them solid
competition every Wednesday night.

“This league has really opened their arms to us,” said head coach Dean
Hanson. “Everyone looks forward to playing against us. It’s a great
opportunity for us to get a great game in weekly.”

With the New Brunswick Special Olympic Softball Provincials cancelled
again this year, the Western Valley Region team has remained the
defending New Brunswick champions since 2019. They did get invited this
year to Antigonish to compete in the Nova Scotia Softball Provincials.

They finished in second place as runners-up to Dartmouth. Hanson said he
expects New Brunswick Special Olympic softball to be operational for the
following season.

The team, which is in its eighth season, is mostly returning players,
but four first-time female players joined the group.

Team members include Jonathan Barrett, Luke Bustard, Amy Clark, Diana
Cogswell, Brittany Connor, Joshua Cousins, Abigail Crawford, Tyson
Cullins, Travis Foster, Isiah Furrow, Chris Grant, Connor Havens, Stuart
Home, Alec Keirstead, Kevin Leighton, Anthony McDougall, Jeff Robinson
and Craig Shaw.

Assisting Coach Hanson were Mandy Boone and Terry Cullins. Woodstock
Police Force Cst. Shaun Kimball has also been an instrumental volunteer
in the program.

In another away tournament in Fredericton, Western Valley went
undefeated against teams from Fredericton and Moncton.

They also practiced every Sunday night to work on drills and
fundamentals and practice base running.

Hanson, who has been involved with the sport of softball for over 35
years, said coaching in the Special Olympic program had introduced a
whole new way of looking at the game.

“When someone says they can’t, we don’t buy that. We find a way,” said
Hanson. “We just find a way that they can. That’s the Special Olympics.”

Hanson said he’s never met a group that is so attentive and eager to
learn.

“They seem to soak up our advice and take it to heart,” said Hanson.
“They always want to get better. That’s why they are playing at such a
high level.”

The team was formed eight years ago by Martin McNally, Dave Dunnett and
Hanson. In their second season, Western Valley was Provincial Champs and
got to attend the National Softball Championship, where they returned
home with a Bronze medal.

The program has continued to be steadily successful since then, and
Hanson anticipates a strong 2023 showing when New Brunswick Special
Olympic softball is back in full swing.

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