Rob Hedges has been involved in the Cambridge women’s sports scene for decades.
He served on the board of directors for the Cambridge Roadrunners Girls’ Hockey Association from 2006-2015 while his daughter made her way through the program and is the current general manager of the Cambridge Rivulettes junior hockey club.
But hockey isn’t his only passion when it comes to growing sports in the city.
Hedges has coached baseball in the area for years with the elite Ontario Terriers program that once called Dickson and Riverside Parks home and then with his son’s Cambridge Minor Baseball teams.
Now he’s ready to take on a new role. One that’s helping get more women involved in the game of baseball as the Cambridge Minor Baseball Women’s Coordinator.
“The last 10 years I’ve been coaching my son but next year I’m giving it up because they need a different voice,” Hedges said with a laugh.
“But I couldn’t get out of baseball completely and there’s been a big push by the Ontario Baseball Association to try to promote women to play baseball. I thought with my experience working with ladies in other sports and my baseball coaching background, it’s something I’d like to spearhead.”
The women’s game is on the rise in Canada, highlighted by a silver medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
More locally, just down the road in Brantford approximately 60 women have taken up the sport, Hedges says. It’s his mission to open up the game to more young women in Cambridge.
While he admits it’s going to take time, the initial response has been promising.
“Our first information meeting we had about 20 families show up,” Hedges said.
“Since then we’ve had more take an interest. They’re enthusiastic.”
Before they’re able to field teams of their own in women's divisions, Hedges wants to provide the opportunity for them to see all that the game has to offer.
He’s currently finalizing a six, one and a half hour time slots at the CMBA Cubs Den facility on Hespeler Road. These sessions will be free of charge and will serve as a way for Hedges to introduce the fundamentals of the game.
Participants don't need to register for the season with the CMBA to attend, Hedges says.
“There’s a waiver the parents can sign so that they can try it out without registering,” he said.
“If they enjoy it and we see a lot of interest, we may have to find a way to fund more sessions. When April rolls around we’ll see where we’re at and they can register with CMBA at that point.”
The development and promotion of the game won’t stop in the winter. Hedges plans on going out to local diamonds and watching them play in the summer, giving tips and advice along the way.
“In the first year, they’ll likely be in house league with the boys and we’ll see what the interest level is,” he said.
“It’s going to be open an philosophy and we'll see what they want to do. If we can get enough for a team, we’ll look into going to other cities and playing. Everything is on the table at this point.”
For those who look at baseball as a male sport, Hedges reminds people it wasn’t all that long ago the same was said about hockey. Now, tens of thousands of women play the sport across the country.
“If your child has an interest in the sport, we have the facilities and knowledge to help them develop it into a passion,” Hedges said.
“It’s not different than girls starting to play hockey years ago. Women’s baseball is only going to grow. Eventually we’ll have a league for them.”
For more information on the CMBA girls program and to register for the free sessions visit cambridgeminorbaseballassociation.teamsnapsites.com/cmba-girls-baseball or email Rob Hedges at [email protected]
Cambridge Minor Baseball house league registration will be opening in the coming weeks and more information will be on the association’s website.