New slo-pitch division finds teams happ-E to be there
There’s no I in team and there was no E in slo-pitch – until some Yellowknife slo-pitch teams proved themselves bad enough to earn it.
The Yellowknife Slo-Pitch Association announced mid-season it would add a new “enthusiast” division, one rung below the existing D division, to keep games competitive and maximize playing time.
The consequence is that some teams who already thought they were in the worst available division have been told they are, in fact, even worse than the previous ranking system allowed.
“The creation of the E division is always an option for the YKSA (per the Slo-Pitch National standards) and every year is brought to the league members’ attention at our annual AGM that it may be incorporated, if needed,” said Yellowknife Slo-Pitch Association president Rebekah Clarke.
Each season, the association reviews team standings and makes changes as needed after four to six weeks of play.
While the mid-season review is nothing new, adding a new division partway through the summer is an unusual shift.
“I never even considered this a possibility,” said Rylund Johnson, team captain for newly-appointed E division team Take Me Home Tonight.
“I was always very adamant that we were a D league team, and no one was allowed to get too good or take it too serious – and then they created E, and I realized that a dream I didn’t even know I had, had come true.”
“Everyone was a little surprised,” said Scott Letkeman, co-captain of fellow E division team Cabin Radioheads. “I don’t think anyone really conceived of the alphabet going that far down.”
Deciding which teams would stay in D and which must plumb further slo-pitch depths in E was straightforward, Clarke said. “There was a clear split in the division,” she told Cabin Radio.
Tyler Pond’s Milwaukee Brewers survived the separation, retaining their place in D.
“I think that’s great. The teams are pretty competitive, even for D division – and that’s good to see,” Pond said.
Even teams relegated to the newly-minted E division appear to be taking the shift in stride.
“I put in seven hard years organizing this team, and it’s one of my greatest accomplishments – to finally be so bad, that they had to create a new division for us,” Johnson said.
“We’ve worked really hard at this. I’ve had to actively recruit people with zero athletic ability to accomplish this, and it hasn’t been easy, so I really consider this the pinnacle of my slo-pitch career.”
Letkeman said he and teammates used to joke among themselves about this exact change.
“It was more of an ‘in jest’ sort of thing, like, ‘if there could be a lower division than D, we would happily play in it.’ I never thought it would actually happen, but here we are. We have achieved our goals.”
“Changing things up mid-season is a direct result of player feedback,” Clarke said. “The YKSA receives feedback daily from our members regarding different levels of competition, wanting fairer, more balanced games and general player enjoyment.”
While the surprise addition may have momentarily bruised a few egos, it was ultimately a welcome one.
“There were people taking D league seriously. They certainly were not drinking enough beer, and they certainly were not realizing that after years of playing you’re not supposed to know the rules,” Johnson said.
“I think it’s a great idea, because our team is awful. We needed a lower division than D,” Letkeman said.
As for how to make the most of their new division? Captains said they’re now even more prepared to do their worst.
“I’m a little worried that now they’ve created E for us, we might win a quarter of our games. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that,” Johnson said. “Now, I have a whole new goal: to make sure we never win the E division and get booted back to D.”
“We look forward to pushing for an F Division,” Letkeman said.