Eight teams came together in Canim Lake last weekend for the first annual Steve Daniels Jr. Memorial Fastball Tournament.
Daniels was a former councillor for the Canim Lake Band who died after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 42 last August. In addition to his community work, he was well known as an avid hockey and baseball player. His mother Denise Archie, who organized the tournament, said bringing all of his friends and family together was the perfect way to honour his memory.
“Steven was an all-around athlete and a leader. He played baseball, hockey and golf and was a hunter, a fisherman,” Archie said. “He’d do anything for the people, he’d give you his shirt off his back if he had to.”
When Daniels played fastball he manned third base where he earned the nickname ‘The Wall.’ Andrea Boyce, his longtime teammate and best friend, said she grew up playing with Daniels on the Shuswap Defenders with her dad Gerome ‘Stumpy’ Boyce. Boyce said he was always very serious when he played and dedicated to the moment-to-moment play.
“He was always sportsmanlike and encouraging and took his sports very seriously,” Boyce said. “If it was really tense he’d break it with humour.”
Helping organize the fastball tournament was emotional for Boyce, who said it brought up a lot of memories of playing with Daniels. She said it was great so many former teammates and rivals came out to play and share their own memories with one another.
Over the weekend, several teams Daniels had played for or against competed, including the Big Guy Lake Kings, the Vernon Outlaws, the Shuswap Defenders from Canim Lake, the Lillooet Coyotes, the Native Sons from the Williams Lake First Nation, the Chu Chua Chiefs from Barriere, the Vernon Bannock Slaps and the Pukaist Heat from Ashcroft.
Robin Gilbert, captain of the Native Sons, said the entire team came out of retirement for the tournament. Gilbert said they started playing together when Daniels was 17 and they played all across Canada together. These days, most of the Native Sons are in their mid-forties but they didn’t let that stop them from staying competitive.
“None of us has played fastball for years so we just came over and decided to put a team in,” Gilbert said. “It’s been great, we won our first game this morning and it’s good to see our fastball family we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Ultimately, the Kings took first place beating out the Heat in the championship. Several awards were also given out to individual players including the All Star award to Shane Miller of the Bannock Slaps, the Third Base “The Wall” award to Jordan Daniels from Big Guy Lake, the Best Hitter award to Eli Jules of the Pukaist Heat, the Rookie award to Bruce Jackson, 12, of the Bannock Slaps and MVP and Best Pitcher going to Norm Linton from Big Guy Lake.
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Julian Noisecat, Denise’s nephew, travelled up from Birmingham, Wash. to play for the Shuswap Defenders. He said all of his cousins always looked up to Daniels and called him brother. Noisecat said whenever he came back to Canim Lake to visit, Daniels would make sure he got involved in hockey or baseball games with local friends and family.
“Some of my best memories were made in sports and some of my absolute best memories were made with my cousins and family from here,” Noisecat said. “I think it’s a testament to Steven’s ability to bring us together that even after he’s gone we’re still gathering together to play, make good memories and love each other.”