The Gladstone Whips softball team. (Top L-R) Garth German, Les Ellchuk, Cliff Bishop, Don Campbell,Wade Campbell, Gregg Waldvogel, Frank Sioux. (Front L-R) Jason Ferguson, Jamie Scharf, John Blair, Rob Olson, Mike Foster, Rod Spek, Greg Boden,Dave McCaskill. Missing Don Smoke, Jim Nicholson, Denis Houle, Blair Adamson, Rob McIvor, Gord Hall, Dean McBride, Bruce Olson, Wayne Deschouwer. (Supplied photo)
It's a special time for a team from Gladstone.
The Gladstone Whips softball team will be inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2018 for their many accomplishments in the sport.
"There were a bunch of us from high school that played and I figured maybe we should form our own team in Gladstone,” says founder, Rob Olson. “We started off really well as we won the men’s league our first year in the league. So that was a nice surprise to start off and we just kept rolling.”
The Gladstone Whips formed in 1988 and entered the Gladstone Men's Fastball League, and quickly surpassed the competition. The team's desire to compete at a higher level soon led them to the South Central Fastball League and eventually to the Winnipeg Fastball League. Gladstone had a core of 11 boys that grew up together from Junior A, to Senior Open, and finally to Senior A competition. With the addition of a few veteran Senior A caliber athletes, the Whips now became known for winning tournaments at every level, provincially.
“I think eight of the nine positions were held by a Gladstone player,” says Olson. “It was pretty exciting to have a team of Gladstone boys on the field and doing well. A lot of the stuff is hard to remember but we were one of the top teams in the country and we all had a lot of fun.”
Players traveled hours to compete in tournaments in Saskatchewan, Ontario and the northern United States where they added several wins to their list of accomplishments. The Gladstone Whips extended their winning ways from Provincial Championships to Western Canadian Championships by capturing a gold medal at the Western Canadian Intermediate A Championships in 1999 in Fort McMurray, Alta., a silver medal at the Western Canadian Senior Open in Victoria, B.C., in 2000 and a bronze medal at the Western Canadian Senior Open Championships in Moose Jaw, Sask., in 2001.
The Whips continued on their path to compete at the highest possible level by earning a spot to represent Manitoba at the Senior A Men's National Championships that were held in Winnipeg the next year.
“Our first provincials we ended up losing but bounced back to win the provincials in Manitoba the next year,” adds Olson. “It was a really special time for a lot of players out there and unfortunately the popularity of the sport has declined and we might not see anything like this again here in Manitoba.”
The Whips were a team that was blessed with the support of an entire town, the desire to improve and the willingness to add the necessary parts to make their team hall of fame caliber.