Softball takes root on an acreage near Saskatoon.
The land is home to Don Bates, who has been active in softball for 50 years. An accomplished pitcher, his coaching began in the 1980s with a one-day pitching clinic. He soon added a program for indoor training.
Bates organized a minor softball clinic that continued for 15 years. He travelled throughout Saskatchewan to hold rural clinics. He started a summer softball camp.
Eight years ago Bates launched the Tiger Softball Academy at Tommy Douglas Collegiate. He is the teacher and instructor in the program that provides a full semester of softball education for high school students from across the province.
Bates has been involved with Softball Canada's national teams since 2005. He was head coach of the Canadian national men's team for five years, winning the Pan Am championship and placing fifth at worlds.
He was an assistant coach on the Canadian women's team that finished fourth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Saskatoon pitcher Dione Meier credits Bates for developing her drop-ball pitch so she could play in the Olympics.
Kent Kostuk, who is president of the Saskatoon Minor Softball League, said Bates has a special skill to work with both a raw rookie and an elite athlete.