Wayne and Lynda First COVID-19 Donation to League (above left)


July 3rd, 2020

Attention SAMSPA Players, Managers and Coaches:

After a lengthy meeting last night, the Board has voted to cancel the 2020 softball season. This was a very difficult decision for the Board to make, but a decision that we feel is in the best interests of the league and our players when all factors are considered.

For some of you, this announcement will come as a relief; for others, it will seem like the right thing to do; and for many of you, it will come as a disappointment. These are the same reactions I observed in our Board members last night and over the past several weeks. For those who are disappointed with this decision, I will walk you through our rationale.

But before I get into that, I want to recognize the significant contributions of the Board who have gone way above and beyond, leaving no stones unturned in trying to find a way back to ball this season. They have been working tirelessly developing plans, proposals, logistical strategies, communication plans, training procedures and re-thinking the game; all so we could have a partial 2020 season. Not to mention meeting once or twice a week for months. It’s worth mentioning that our final decision to cancel the season was heavily debated before a vote was called last night.

Our Rationale

To play ball this season, countless unprecedented hurdles had to be overcome. We needed to consider many factors:

1)      Player safety

2)      Transmission spread prevention

3)      COVID Response plan

4)      Traceability

5)      Compliance with municipal and provincial guidelines

6)      Accountability measures at all levels – players, coaches, managers, staff

7)      Availability of umpires

8)      Cohorts versus changing the game

9)      Costs to play and financial implications to league

10)   Ability to run a concession and possible limitations

11)   Cleaning and sanitation protocols

12)   And a myriad of other details

We were able to get approval from the City and the Province on our Return to Play Safety Plan – a major hurdle we cleared this week. But there were still more hurdles appearing on the horizon. In the end, there was no single reason for the decision to cancel the season. Here are a few observations: 

-   The earliest we could start was July 13 and that was not ensured.

-   The Board felt that the risks outweigh the potential reward of a partial season. 

-   The amount of effort to launch and run the season compounded with the high degree of uncertainty and lack of control led us to this conclusion. 

-   It would be very difficult to manage the things in our control and despite our best efforts, a few COVID cases in our league could wipe out weeks of the shortened season.

-   Many teams were dropping out for a variety of reasons.

-   It was looking like we would have to umpire our own games which meant more teams would drop.

-   We were going to have to hire staff to ensure the protocols were enforced and that washrooms were sanitized every three hours

-   The logistics to consider were endless and new ones kept cropping up.

-   The concession staff were willing to open, but reluctantly.  They were worried about exposure and transmission, both ways.

The Silver Lining

Despite the heaviness of letting go of the 2020 season, the work that we have done in preparation is not lost. We will be able to leverage many of the protocols and plans we have developed going forward; fine tuning as needed based on what is happening with the pandemic. 

Once I’ve had a few days to reflect, I will provide a more detailed update. We owe it to you to provide the details.

Have a great summer and see you next season!


Joel McGovern


June 27th, 2020

SAMSPA Managers, Coaches and Players

As we continue to peel back layers of the onion that governs what our 2020 partial season will look like, I would like to update you on our progress and what the season is looking like based on discussions with the City, the government and the umpires. 

We have heard from many of you wanting further clarification on the safety precautions and changes to the game. As you know, this season will be far from normal and its important that you make informed decisions. In this update I will provide you the latest information we have available.

We are currently back and forth with the City of St. Albert on our proposal and may not have a decision until the end of the coming week. We also have upcoming discussions with the Province on the definitions of Cohort and its application in team sports play. This is a key component of our return to play strategy.

We need your feedback

As you will see in the coming update, there are numerous steps to getting this season off the ground and several changes to what we are used to regarding the game itself. 

We really need your feedback. Please let us know how supportive you are of the proposed model below.  Would your team be willing to play under these conditions? 

I know Lynda has already polled teams and at least ¾ of the teams are planning to play, but many of those teams were also concerned about the amount of change that would be introduced. Hopefully this update provides greater clarity on what the game will look like for 2020.

A Word about Cohorts

Every league that we are aware of is adopting the team sports Cohort model of play where a group of 50 players including an umpire are restricted to playing each other for the duration of the season or until the cohort size is adjusted by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

With our large rosters, this would restrict us to 2-3 team cohorts playing each other over and over. We have heard from many members of the league and there has been no support for the Cohort approach that limits your exposure to other teams. The Board views this as a showstopper so we are proposing an alternative approach which I will discuss shortly. 

Another important feature of cohorts to consider: if you are in one, you are not supposed to be in any others regardless of the nature of the Cohort. This includes different leagues, different sports, etc. The idea of the Cohort is to create a limited exposure group that can interact with each other in a relatively normal way in terms of the game itself.

SAMSPA Approach

We are proposing to modify the game to ensure social distancing between the defensive team and the batting team as well as the umpire. Here are the key elements:

-  Catcher has defined box 2M from batting boxes

-  Ump has 2 defined locations marked to call plays from both sides of plate – further back

-  We add a second set of bases for the runners at least 2M from the existing defensive bags

-  To create the distance between defenders and runners, we are proposing to:

• have the running bags beyond the defensive bags. 

• advantage goes to the defenders

• should reduce scoring thereby reducing length of games, thereby giving us time between games to sanitize

-  There will be no tagging

-  Instead, there will be force plays at every bag and a commitment line between all bases

-  Umpire will make calls from their designated location so they will not be entering the field of play to make calls

-  Exact locations of bags and commitment lines will be worked out in a simulation game

-  Below is a mock-up of the concept with the orange line and bags for the runner

Diamond Mockup


-  Runners must avoid defenders making plays on balls to ensure the 2M distance is respected

By protecting the defensive team from the batting team, we intend to allow teams to play all teams within their division. 

On the defensive side, we cannot fully prevent two defenders from coming together so we will need to have each team become a Cohort.

Cohorts are back?

Yes, but different. Each team is a cohort. That allows them to come together occasionally on defense and also allows teams to sit together in the concession. Each diamond will have designated home and visitor picnic tables in the concession. Teams in a cohort can sit together.

What if my team has players from another team?

Depending upon submitted roster sizes, more than one team can form a cohort provided the total cohort size remains at or below 50. Once you are in a cohort, you cannot be part of another. Cohorts will be tracked by the league. As an example, the Old Buzzards 60 and Old Buzzards 70 can form a cohort and share players.

What if I want to belong to a cohort in another league?

Then you cannot play in SAMSPA. This is a violation of the directives of the CMOH around cohorts. It’s very limiting on players who play for multiple teams in different leagues and choices will have to be made. We will need to abide by this if we wish to launch the season.

What about liability?

Every player will be required to sign a waiver before being allowed to play this season. We are investigating a way of tracking completed waivers on the roster page of our website. This waiver is essential for protecting the league and its Directors should a COVID case be linked back to our facility or members. This will be mandatory for us to proceed with a season.

What about umpires?

We continue to work on this issue. Some umpires are already tied to existing cohorts. Because we are creating an environment that always guarantees the 2M social distance, we are hoping to work around this cohort limitation but we do not have approval on this concept as yet.  If we cannot resolve the issue, we may have a shortfall of umpires, different umpires of possible no umpires and could face self-umping games. We need to be prepared for the possibility of self-umping games of having a games umped by other teams on a schedule.

What are we doing for 60+ players?

The province expects us to have a strategy to protect older players. To this end, we are proposing the following:

-  They have their own time-slots

-  Plus 60 and Plus 70 teams can form cohorts across those two divisions but cannot cohort with Plus 40, Plus 50 or Open divisions

-  The Concession will open to Plus 40/50/Open at the end of the first evening game (6:30 slot) thereby allowing the Plus 60 players time in the concession without added exposure to other players

Are we required to do pre-game health checks?

Yes. The manager/coach will be asked to survey every member of the team present at the game asking some basic health questions.  Any player that responds YES will be asked to leave. The Manager/Coach will then have to sign off on the game sheet that the health check was completed. The umpire may ask for verification that this has been done.  Game sheets must be kept for the duration of the season to assist in contact tracing should the need arise.

What happens if a member of our league tests positive for COVID?

That player will be quarantined for 14 days and SAMSPA will immediately begin working with AHS on an action plan which may include any number of eventualities including:

-  Team being shut down for two weeks

-  All teams in trace back being shut down for two weeks

-  League being shut down for two weeks

-  Players may be asked to get tested

In the end, AHS will determine the steps taken to prevent further spread. SASMSPA will work collaboratively with them to ensure safety of our members and spectators.

What else?

-  Dugouts will be limited to a few players only

-  Spots will be marked on fence lines for players to sit/stand that are at least 2M apart

-  Dugouts will be equipped with sanitized and cleaner sprays for spraying down dugouts and fence lines after games

-  Players will be asked to bring their own water bottles, bug sprays, hand sanitizer, etc.

-  Each team will use their own balls when defending

-  On deck batter will retrieve bats by the barrel only – opposing team or umpire will not touch bats

As mentioned already, please let us know your thoughts on these proposed changes to the game.


Joel McGovern,
President, SAMSPA


SAMSPA Request

June 15, 2020

SAMSPA Managers/Coaches,

As you’ve probably heard, the Alberta government has moved Team Sports to Stage 2 (which opened last Friday) with some restrictions. We would like to get back to playing ball by the end of June or early July but we have some hurdles to overcome along the way. Ultimately, the City of St. Albert will determine if our Return to Play plan is acceptable.

We need your feedback! 

The big hurdle for us to overcome is the restriction on number of people for an outdoor event and what constitutes an event. Will they treat the entirety of Meadowview as one event or each diamond as an event? Will the concession be treated separately from the diamonds? We have submitted these questions to the Province for clarification.

Other hurdles include a range of changes to ensure safety of our players. Here is a list of potential changes that may be in place this year so we can play:

  • In Game Changes
    • No sliding or tagging allowed for this season – forces at all bases with commitment lines for 2nd, 3rd and Home
    • Possibility of a second bag for the runner at 1st base
    • Limiting the number of players/coaches in the dugout
    • Spacing players along the fence line for distancing (spots will be marked)
    • Players are encouraged to bring a chair/umbrella
    • Bats will be retrieved by picking up by the barrel only
    • Dugouts will be equipped with sanitizer
    • Managers will have to sign off a team health check on the game sheet
    • Managers will have to retain all game sheets for contact tracing
    • Games may be shortened to 6 innings to reduce build-up of players
  • Traffic Flow
    • We may designate one entrance for arrivals and the other for departures
    • We may slightly stagger start times to control flow of arrivals
    • Players may be asked to come no earlier than 15 mins before game time
    • Players may be asked to gear up in the parking lot or at home rather than at the diamond
    • Washrooms will have queue lines and will be limited to one or two occupants
  • Concession /Refreshment
    • Some tables will be removed from the covered area and spread around the areas between diamonds
    • A queue line will be marked
    • Additional safety precautions will be required by staff working at concession

These are a range of safety considerations that may be implemented along with others to ensure that we can return to ball in a safe manner. We wanted you to know what the landscape might look like as you prepare for the season.

Our Ask

Based on the above information, we would like to know if you are planning to enter your team for this season. We would like to know this by Monday, June 22nd so that we can begin to develop a schedule.

Please inform Lynda of your intentions to play this season.


Joel McGovern
President, SAMSPA


SAMSPA Update – Episode 9
June 5, 2020

SAMSPA Members,

I would like to apologize for missing my weekly update last Friday. I had a very hectic work week that ran very late into Friday evening and I was not able to get an update written. I then decided to wait until this Friday because there was not a lot to report. 

Going forward, I plan to switch from weekly Friday updates to “Just in Time” updates that I will send out as notable announcements come forward.

In this update, I would like to address two key areas: (1) Fundraising and (2) Return to Play.


I am pleased to report that as of today, our SAMSPA Survived COVID-19 Recognition Wall Fundraiser has raised $8,218 of our targeted $20,000 thanks in part to a generous team donation of $1,200 by the Raiders +70. We still have work to do!

According to our website the top three teams in our fundraising challenge are:

Raiders 70+ $1,200         Esso Bee’s $1,067           Silverbacks $936

As a reminder, the league is facing significant financial challenges as a result of the pandemic so this fundraising initiative is an important component of getting our league back in good financial shape. On that note, I would challenge all of you to reach out to your teams and try to out do the teams you see listed above.  Donations from teams, individual players, local businesses and members of the public can be routed by e-transfer to our Treasurer at treasurer@samspaslowpitch.com or by cheque made out to SAMSPA and mailed to 1 Meadowview Drive, St. Albert AB, T8N 2R9.

Step up to the plate to support our league!

Return To Play

According to the City of St. Albert, our facility is scheduled to re-open in Stage 3 which does not have a date set at this time. It looks like an announcement on Stage 2 will come early next week and is likely to come earlier than the June 19 date that has been tossed around. This is good news and opens the door to a possible partial season starting some time in July.

Any return to play this summer will require SAMSPA to submit a Re-opening Plan to the City of St. Albert and possibly the provincial site. We have been downloading and reviewing the documentation coming out and have begun the process of developing a plan. The Board will be meeting next week to review / discuss the plan.

There are numerous variables to consider to ensure that distancing is enforced where possible; that  cleaning protocols are in place for washrooms, concession and the field of play; and that screening is done before upon entry to the complex.

In my next update, I will provide an overview of the plan that we are preparing, keeping in mind that the plan will continue to evolve as we learn more. Once the plan is completed, we will circulate to members for consideration and feedback.

To stay on top of this, we are monitoring many other organizations that are at various stages of developing similar re-opening plans. 

  • Alberta Soccer has submitted a “Return to Play” document to government and has receive positive feedback. They are working on a “Safe Game” format which they will also be sending to AHS for review. We will be monitoring this.
  • LeagueApps in the US is hosting a virtual “Return to Play” conference during the second week of June from which we hope to gain information.

Have a great weekend. Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website and Facebook page.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President


SAMSPA Update – Episode 8

May 22, 2020

SAMSPA Members,

This past week we held our first General Meeting using Zoom. All things considered, I thought it went off pretty well. Thanks to the team working behind the scenes to help make it effective. 

The General Meeting had three main objectives:

1. Present the 2020 Budget for adoption and review the financial position of the league

2. Formally introduce the Fundraising Initiative and provide more details to members

3. Present a high level framework on our Return to Play reopening strategy


The budget was based on a key assumption that we would not play ball this season, however I did report that our forecast models for several partial season scenarios did not affect the bottom line in any significant way. In other words, the added costs to play will be fairly evenly offset by the revenue generated from fees and concession.

Bottom line on the budget: we are in good shape for 2020 thanks to the Incentive Program however we face significant challenges in 2021.  As we move closer to 2021, we have a range of options to review and consider to address the financial challenges ahead. The Board remains confident that we will meet and overcome these challenges and restore the league to a sound financial position in the coming years.


I am pleased to report that we have received our first Grand Slam donation of $1,000 or more (Warren Stevenson – MFP Resources) and have quickly surpassed the $5,000 mark of our $20,000 goal. The virtual recognition wall can be found on our league home page at www.samspaslowpitch.com. Raising funds for SAMSPA in the COVID-19 era is vey important for our league sustainability and helps to minimize the economic pressure we will face next year.

I would encourage you to reach out to your teammates, members of the community and local businesses and spread the word about this fundraising initiative. Many organizations are struggling right now and need to raise funds to stay afloat; SAMSPA is no different. Achieving our goal of $20,000 will make a huge difference for SAMSPA.

You can also follow the “SAMSPA Survived COVID-19” campaign  on our league Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/samspastalbert.

All donations will be recognized on our virtual recognition wall immediately for the next three years. They will also be formally recognized on sign boards at the diamonds for a minimum of three years.

Return To Play

We have received word from the City of St. Albert that our facility is targeted for full opening as part of Stage 3. This stage does not have a date set, in fact there is not an official date for Stage 2 although that looks like it will occur around June 19. Best case scenario for Stage 3 is probably mid-July at this point but that timing will be determined by the effectiveness of Stage 1 and 2.

We have a committee led by Erv Krawchuk that is developing a strategy and action plan for returning to play under a range of safety consideration. There is much more work to be done in this area, but we have made an excellent beginning. We will keep you posted throughout the process. In the coming weeks, this will become the focus of my updates.

Good News

After navigating the CEWS wage subsidy application process and nervously awaiting the arrival of the first month’s wage subsidy, payment has finally arrived. We had built in about $26k of wage subsidy revenue into our budget so it was a relief to have that first payment come through thereby validating the process and our overall eligibility. This is great news for SAMSPA as it allows us to keep our facility well maintained and our operations running smoothly. 

Have a great weekend. Please pass this on to all your teammates.This message will also be posted on our website and Facebook page.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President

May 15, 2020 

SAMSPA Members 

I will keep this update brief as we will be meeting virtually this coming Wednesday. 

Incentive Program 

We asked teams to support the financial position of the league by putting up all or some of their league fees regardless of whether we are able to play or not. This was done to ensure we had adequate cash position to get through this year and be able to start the next season.   

We asked and you answered the call!   

Over 2/3rds of the league were able to support us, the vast majority covering their entire league fees. This was a tremendous display of support for our league and really shows the character and quality of our league. On behalf of the board, we thank you.   

As a result, we are in strong financial position this year but 2021 will be challenging for us. You will see this in the budget presentation next week. 

Fundraising Initiative 

We launched the SAMSPA Survived COVID-19 Recognition Wall campaign late last week to raise funds for our league.   

The campaign has raised over $3,000 already - from players, companies and members of the public.  

Lynda has been working with the web team to get the recognition wall on the home page of the website. I encourage you to check it out if you get a chance. 

We are seeking voluntary donations from players, businesses, and the public through a formal campaign. In appreciation for these contributions, we are developing a recognition board that will be placed at our diamonds for at least three years. Additionally, we will have a recognition board on our website. Contributors will be listed on the board according to the following tiers: 

  • Single$20 to $100 

  • Double$101 to $200 

  • Triple$201 to $300 

  • Home Run$301 to $1000 

  • Grand Slam$1000+ 

Our goal is the raise $20,000 from this campaign. The future of SAMSPA is in our hands so please consider a donation if you are able; understanding that many of us have been financially impacted by the pandemic.  

Further fundraising ideas will be presented at the General Meeting. 

COVID-19 Sub-Committee 

We are still awaiting our first round of CEWS wage subsidy to arrive in the bank. At this point we are confident that we will be receiving wage subsidy for our groundskeeper and operations coordinator so we have built that into our budget. We will feel better about that when the first payments arrive (perhaps next week). 

We have also received the CEBA $40k bank loan to backstop our operations. This will provide the league with important operating funds that are interest-free until the end of 2022 if needed. In addition, only $30k will need to be paid back so that extra $10k will really help to support us through COVID-19. 

General Meeting 

Will be held Wednesday, May 20th at 7:00 PM via Zoom. Managers may invite additional players from their teams however each team will only be allowed one vote. The designated voter for each team will be identified during roll call.  

Zoom invites will be going out Monday evening. If you have never used Zoom and have concerns about connecting for the first time, we can arrange a 30 minute test session on Tuesday evening to make sure you are able to connect. Please let Lynda know if you are interested in a test session.   

Included with the Zoom invite (on Monday), we will also provide a copy of the budget and a report from the Fundraising Committee.  


Just a reminder that we will be going through a process of collecting email addresses for all registered players to allow us to communicate broadly to the membership. 

The Board has also asked that we collect cell phone numbers (voluntarily) from all players wishing to be communicated via text or other messaging platforms. 

Lynda will be reaching out to team managers to outline the data collection process.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website. 

Stay safe and remember to isolate. 

 Best Regards,

Joel McGovern SAMSPA President


May 8, 2020

SAMSPA Members

Next week, the first stage of re-opening is taking place followed by a gradual expansion of services and activities based on how well we contain the virus. Its reasonable to assume that if we do play ball this year, we will have to operate differently to respect social distancing and minimize spread. In preparation for this, we are forming a sub-committee led by Erv Krawchuk. The main goal is to develop and implement a strategy for resuming softball activities. We want to demonstrate that we have thought through the processes leading to a safer ball experience as we await word from the city and other government agencies.

Here is a brief update on the week’s activities:

First off, I really need to thank Lynda and the Board once again for all their hard work. It is very evident to me that not playing ball creates far more work than playing ball. The effort to address uncertainty and volatility is significant and deserves mention.

Incentive Program

I promised a breakdown this week, but we have not completed our financial analysis and are still developing the budget. The Board has two additional meetings planned (tomorrow night and Wednesday) to finalize the budget so look for an update next week.

COVID-19 Sub-Committee

This week we formally applied for the CEWS 75/25 wage subsidy for our groundskeeper and operations coordinator. We had to jump through a number of hoops to get the actual applications in. We assume that both positions will be covered for the duration of the program, however we won’t know for sure until money arrives.

We have also applied for the CEBA $40k bank loan to backstop our operations. This provides the league with important operating funds that are interest-free until the end of 2022 if needed. 

Hopefully by next week we will have funds in place from these government programs.

Fundraising Sub-Committee

This group brought forward a five point plan to raise funds for the league to offset the losses we are facing as a result of COVID-19.  The Board has approved that plan in principal but will be discussing a few of the activities in more detail over the next week. As I have tried to convey through my weekly updates, the league is facing significant financial loss regardless of whether we play a partial season or miss the season entirely. To continue to maintain a high quality league going forward, we will need to raise funds beyond our traditional revenue streams.

For this reason, I am pleased to formally announce the first fundraising activity approved by the Board:

SAMSPA Survived COVID-19 Recognition Wall

We are seeking voluntary donations from players, businesses, and the public through a formal campaign. In appreciation for these contributions, we are developing a recognition board that will be placed at our diamonds for at least three years. Additionally, we will have a recognition board on our website. Contributors will be listed on the board according to the following tiers:

-          Single                  $20 to $100

-          Double                $101 to $200

-          Triple                  $201 to $300

-          Home Run          $301 to $999.00

-          Grand Slam        $1000+

Our goal is to raise $20,000 from this campaign. Already we have raised close to $1000 with very little effort. This is a testament to the great support we have from our league members and our community. We will place a goal thermometer on the homepage of our website that you can follow, along with the names of contributors. Lynda is also getting our Facebook page reactivated so that is another way to follow the progress.

The future of SAMSPA is in our hands, so please consider a donation if you are able; understanding that many of us have been financially impacted by the pandemic. If you are able to donate please let your Coach or Team Manager know or contact admin@samspaslowpitch.com for information to donate directly to League.

Further fundraising initiatives will be highlighted in my next report.

General Meeting

Will be held Wednesday, May 20th at 7:00 PM via Zoom.  Please mark this in your calendars. We would like each team to have at least one representative present at the meeting. You may invite other members of your team to attend but your team will be limited to one vote. Please arrive early so we can identify the voter representing each team – this will be a process.

Expect the Zoom invite to arrive on the 17th or 18th by email. More details on this meeting will come next week.


-   Just a reminder that we will be going through a process of collecting email addresses for all registered players to allow us to communicate broadly to the membership.

-   The Board has also asked that we collect cell phone numbers (voluntarily) from all players wishing to be communicated via text or other messaging platforms.

-   Lynda will be reaching out to team managers to outline the data collection process.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President


May 1, 2020

SAMSPA Members

Well, we’ve reached May 1st and ironically, this would have been the first time in many years that we could have started the season on time. Crazy!

I’ll keep today’s update brief and provide a more comprehensive review next Friday. 

Your Board has had a busy week on multiple fronts. As you know, we face costs as a league whether we play or not, so we are focused on financial options for the sustainability of the league.  Additionally, we are continuing to put energy and planning into a partial season should the recreational sports like softball be re-opened under tighter controls. The Board is meeting next week and the following week to develop the budget that we can present at the General Meeting.

To develop a budget, we are focused on a range of cost-reduction and revenue generation options.  As I previously stated, we will develop a budget that assumes no season will be played but we will also present an alternate financial model that considers a partial season. In either case, the league is going to take a financial hit through this and we will have to work together to restore financial stability to the league. I am confident that we will be able to achieve that.

Readiness to Play

The province is starting a re-opening process but it is still very much a waiting game to see how things go. We are expecting an update from the City of St. Albert on their plans around recreational sports. They will defer to provincial direction, but we want to be proactive in identifying any changes we may need to make to resume playing ball safely. Let’s hope the gradual re-opening is successful.

Incentive Program

Our incentive program closed yesterday and the response from the league was incredible. Based on your financial support and the feedback we received from many of you, it is evident that we have tremendous support from our teams. This really helps to reassure the Board and assists us as we develop the budget.Thank you. I will provide a summary of the incentive program next week after Bob has had a chance to break it down for me. 

COVID-19 Sub-Committee
(Erv Krawchuk, Bob Riel, Keith Pelletier, Darren McBride, Joel McGovern)

-       We met this week and started to roll up our sleeves on the budget but there is much more work to do in this area. 

-       Erv Krawchuk has agreed to establish and lead a working group tasked with developing a plan for returning to play. This group will need to contemplate the safety logistics for having several team’s worth of players at the diamonds at once; taking into account things like the washrooms, concession/beverage room, on-field play and post game gatherings.

-       We are getting closer to knowing what subsidies may apply to us. Just cutting through the red tape. Hoping to have an announcement by next week’s update.

Fundraising Sub-Committee
(Lynda Holden, Malcolm Parker, Phil Presakarchuk, Wayne Hilsendeger)

-       This group met this week and drafted up a preliminary strategy that will be reviewed by the Board next week. The preliminary ideas are well thought out and presented. The league’s ability to raise additional funds to offset the losses arising from COVID-19 are key to our long-term success. 

-       We are very fortunate to have such an active Board that are steadfastly dedicated to the league. I would also be remiss in not recognizing the contributions of Lynda Holden who brings great experience in this area and is leading the committee.

-       Much more to come in this area.

General Meeting

-       Will be scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th in the evening (presume 7:00 PM) using Zoom.


-       Just a reminder that we will be going through a process of collecting email addresses for all registered players to allow us to communicate broadly to the membership.

-       The Board has also asked that we collect cell phone numbers (voluntarily) from all players wishing to be communicated via text or other messaging platforms.

-       Lynda will be reaching out to team managers to outline the data collection process.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President


Friday, April 24, 2020

SAMSPA Members

Another busy week peeling back layers on the various government subsidies available due to COVID-19. The Board met on Wednesday covering a wide range of issues. Here is the overview:

Readiness to Play

Yesterday Dr. Hinshaw announced that all festivals will be cancelled through the summer. At this time, we do not have clarity on what that means for our chances of playing ball this season and will continue to plan for a partial season until we get clear directions from the City of St. Albert and the provincial government otherwise.

Incentive Program

More teams have come forward this past week to pay full or partial team fees and to qualify for the incentive program. It is heartening to see such strong support from our league. The program is open for one more week so I encourage you to consider supporting SAMSPA by paying your fees by April 30th and qualify for a 25% gift card incentive for the 2021 season.

I would remind you that all fees you pay before April 30th will be credited to your team and fully usable in 2021 if this season does not go. Likewise, if we play a partial season, the remainder of your deposit would carry over to 2021.

COVID-19 Sub-Committee
(Erv Krawchuk, Bob Riel, Keith Pelletier, Darren McBride, Joel McGovern)

The primary focus for our committee is to identify and recommend options and strategies to ensure sustainability of the league through this pandemic. We want to get back to playing ball as soon as possible, but also want to ensure the wellbeing of Albertans. To that end, we are reviewing costs (essential versus discretionary) and revenue sources (grants, subsidies, loans, incentives, fundraising, etc.).

Subsidy Options:

-          Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – offers a subsidy of up to 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, March 15th - June 6th

o   This program provides an opportunity to keep our valuable employees working.

o   Recent changes to this program look like we will able to qualify our groundskeeper and operations coordinator however we are still waiting on the application window to open for us.

-          Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Loan – offers a $40k small business loan, with no interest until 2022, as a means to have cash flow businesses with revenue loss.

o   This is a solid opportunity for the league to ensure our operating funds are backstopped should we not be able to play.

o   It looks like we should qualify for this and we are working with the bank to confirm eligibility.

-          Additional programs are being announced regularly but so far nothing has been announced that addresses Societies like SAMSPA. Programs are coming out that support registered charities but we do not qualify. We will continue to work with our government representatives to encourage support for not-for-profits.


-          We have developed and reviewed a number of financial scenarios, but still have many outstanding questions.

-          The Board has directed us to build a budget based on the assumption that we will not play ball this year. We have also been asked to include a second scenario of a half season for informational purposes only.

-          The Board will meet on May 13th to finalize the budget.

Fundraising Sub-Committee
(Lynda Holden, Malcolm Parker, Phil Presakarchuk, Wayne Hilsendeger)

-          The Board has appointed a sub-committee to develop and present a fundraising strategy (short and longer term) to identify opportunities to raise needed funds for the league.

-          This is a critical component of ensuring the survivability of our great league.

-          This is also an opportunity for you to help. If you have ideas on how SAMSPA can raise funds, please bring them forward to Lynda Holden. 

General Meeting

-          Will be scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th in the evening (presume 7:00 PM).

-          This meeting will be a virtual meeting using Zoom.

-          Operating a Zoom meeting of this type requires coordination and logistics behind the scenes to ensure it flows smoothly.

-          We have appointed a team to support this event (Bryan Shields, Glen Dolynchuk, Darren McBride, Lynda Holden).

-          More information will be coming on this.


-          We have committed to providing a weekly update to you as a minimum, however, we are concerned that we are not reaching all of our members.

-          We do not have an effective means of communicating directed with the players from each team, we are currently limited to the coaches and managers.

-          The Board has made a decision that all players registered on teams must provide an email address going forward as a requirement for membership – this allows us to communicate with all members.

-          The Board has also asked that we collect cell phone numbers (voluntarily) from all players wishing to be communicated via text or other messaging platforms.

-          Lynda will be reaching out to team managers to outline the data collection process.

Health and Safety Sub-Committee
(Phil Presakarchuk, Earl Sloan, Wayne Hilsendeger, Brad Jones)

-          The league is trying to assess the skills and qualifications for providing first aid and/or operating defibrillators. This will help us develop a go-forward health and safety strategy.

-          We need your input. Lynda has sent out a survey to teams and I would urge you to circulate that to your teams and provide a summary back to Lynda.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President


Friday April 17th, 2020

SAMSPA Members

We’ve had a busy week sorting out options for SAMSPA and this is your weekly update. First off, I again want to thank our Board members and Lynda for the significant effort they are putting in on behalf of our association. I personally have been swamped with work for the past few weeks and the team has been tremendous in picking up my slack.

Readiness to Play

The Board continues to prepare for the possibility of a June 1st start to our ball season. While that date may well change, we continue to hold optimism that we will get the opportunity to put the glove on and head out to Meadowview for some ball.  Fingers crossed.

Incentive Program

I would like to thank the teams that have agreed to support the league by committing their fees without knowing whether we will have a season in 2020. This support will ensure adequate cash flow going forward. It’s not too late to help support your league.The incentive program runs until April 30 and offers a 25% incentive gift card redeemable in 2021. This incentive applies whether we play or not this season. Any amount paid beyond your $500 deposit qualifies for the incentive, so even if you cannot cover the full fees by April 30, the incentive also applies to partial payments.  If you are interested, contact Bob Reil.

Update from the COVID-19 Working Group

Our primary focus right now is tracking down every available grant and support out there that may help SAMSPA. This has been a challenging process littered with many obstacles and we seemed to be falling through the cracks, however recent announcements look promising and we are actively following up on those opportunities. These programs are literally changing day by day.Our goal is to find programs that will support our staff and allow us to continue to operate in the absence of a ball season.

The Board will be meeting this upcoming Wednesday and will be reviewing various budget scenarios. Look for more on that next week.  Once we have the formation of a budget that makes sense, we will arrange a General Meeting to walk you through it.

Our Sponsors

SAMSPA relies heavily on our advertising sponsors and partners and we need them now more than ever. We have reached out to all sign-board sponsors to assure them that should there be a delay in our season, they will receive an additional year of signboard advertising at no cost. The relationship between SAMSPA and our sponsors is vital to the league and important for the community.


Regarding league sustainability going into the future, the next area of focus for the Board lies with fundraising. At the upcoming Board meeting we will be discussing the establishment of a sub-committee tasked with identifying fundraising opportunities and bringing those back to the Board. We could use your help with this one. If you have ideas in this area, please reach out to Lynda Holden.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern
SAMSPA President


Friday April 10th, 2020

SAMSPA Members:

I would like to provide you with an update of our activities over the past week.  Since we last talked, the Board has met via Zoom and the COVID-19 Working Group has met a couple of times.  Here’s the summary:

Incentive Program

Last week the Board introduced an incentive program to raise funds for the league to ensure our ability to start the 2021 season in the event that we cannot play in 2020.  It is imperative that the league have enough cash to get through this year and start the following season.

So far the response has been great but more commitment is needed.  If your team is in a position to pay your fees up front (by April 30, 2020), you will be entitled to a 25% gift card up to a $500 maximum, to be used in the concession, beverage room or batting cage.

The Board has concluded that the costs of running this program are worthwhile and manageable to avoid the risk of a cash shortage.  Please consider paying up your entire fee in advance to support the league.  Partial deposits also qualify for the 25% gift card so consider that as well.

Readiness to Play

We are still preparing ourselves for a June 1 start-up and will adjust that timeline accordingly based on guidance from the City of St. Albert and the Province.  As we get more information, our plans will become clearer and we will be able to announce key activities like bat testing, roster submission, fees, etc.

Why does it cost $85k if we don’t have a season?

A few members have inquired about this.  Here is a high-level summary of why a non-season has such economic implications:

1) Our fiscal year began Nov 1, 2019 so a number of costs have already accrued

2) There are $50k of sunk costs to this point (ops coordinator, balls, website, insurance, etc.)

3) There are about $10k of unavoidable costs

4) There is about $25k of maintenance costs whether we play or don’t

The Board has reviewed options around maintenance costs, but has concluded that we need to continue to invest to have the facility ready to play and even if we ultimately can’t play. We need to ensure excellent upkeep of the facility and generator to ensure a smooth transition for 2021.

Update from the COVID-19 Working Group

  • Key principles that we are focused on:
    • Develop a financial model that could get us to 2022 without playing ball. 
      • This is obviously a worst case scenario, but we want to be sure that the league can survive something like this.
      • Once our analysis is complete, the Board will draft a budget for presentation at a virtual General Meeting
    • Overall - reduce avoidable costs wherever possible while minimizing impact on the state of the facility and the effective operations of the organization. 
      • Scenarios are being considered for our facility, concession and operations staff and contractors.
    • Review every available government support programs, incentives, loans opportunity (these change constantly)
      • These support programs continue to evolve and change so we are monitoring them constantly to identify cost-saving opportunities, safety nets and opportunities to retain our staff without our normal revenue stream
    • Ensure facility is properly maintained regardless of our ability to play (discussed above)
    • Communicate with the league weekly
    • Be prepared to start the season on short notice

General Meeting

We have not set a firm date but expect to announce in the next few weeks. We need more time to analyze scenarios and options and must also allow for the government programs to evolve a bit to fit our structure. I anticipate an early May meeting, perhaps on a weeknight rather than a Saturday morning.  More to follow.

Once again, I would like to thank Lynda and our Board members for all their efforts over the past month.  My wife commented yesterday that we would all be much less busy if the season was actually going ahead as planned. For that reason, I am truly grateful to the dedication and commitment of our Board and our Operations Coordinator.

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern,
SAMSPA President


Friday April 3rd, 2020

Fellow Ball Players:

SAMSPA, like everyone else, is operating in unprecedented times. The City of St. Albert has ordered the closure of all recreational facilities until June 1, 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order applies to Meadowview. As new cases of infected people in Alberta continue to increase, the probability of the City extending that closure date is high. While it’s possible we could have a complete summer without ball, the SAMSPA Executive is hopeful that the opportunity for a partial season will materialize and we are planning accordingly.

While Meadowview is closed to the public, the City has confirmed that maintenance and other essential staff and contractors are permitted on site so long as they maintain social distancing. This is important regardless of whether we play later this summer or wait until next year because the facility and equipment need to be maintained and kept in good shape for whenever ball can resume.

It is our intention to be prepared to play ball as soon as possible after the City lifts the closure on recreational facilities and assuming that teams feel safe enough to get out and play. We understand that many of us may be going through any number of personal hardships so it will be difficult to tell the appetite for playing ball. That said, we are preparing ourselves for a June 1, 2020 Opening Day and will build a schedule accordingly. As that date slides, we will slide the schedule with it.

How’s the Financial Picture

Regarding SAMSPA’s economic outlook, there are a number of important points to consider if the 2020 season is not played:

1.The cost of the 2020 season is estimated at roughly $85,000 without playing any ball. 

2.The additional cost of starting up a new season (2021) is typically around $60,000.

3.The league maintains a reserve of roughly $70,000 plus the team rebates of roughly $30,000 for a total of approximately $100,000.

These numbers are not exact but close enough for illustration purposes. The 2020 budget estimate has been extensively scrutinized to minimize costs wherever possible without jeopardizing the overall usability of the facility – it’s still coming in around $85k. More detailed financials will be circulated once our analysis and recommendations are complete.

It’s clear that without team fees and refreshment room revenue in 2020, the league does not have enough funds to cover this year’s costs plus the startup costs for the 2021 season.

What is the Board doing?

Your Board is working very hard reviewing a wide range of scenarios and strategies to ensure the future viability of the league.  We have appointed a working group that is tasked with reviewing the financial viability of the league and offering a range of strategies and tactics to minimize costs while maintaining the potential to play again this season. This group consists of myself, our past president, our treasurer and two other Board members. I would very much like to thank them for all of their work on this.

We are investigating all potential federal and provincial COVID-19 programs that support non-profits. We are looking at a range of scenarios for our workforce including our groundskeepers, concession team and our Operations Coordinator.  We are looking at numerous cost-saving and revenue-raising options. We will be updating you weekly on our findings and progress.

How can you help?

To ensure viability of a 2021 season, the league is seeking an investment from our member teams. We are proposing an incentive program that would reward teams for paying their league fees this season regardless of whether we play.  This would ensure that the league has the needed cash to launch the 2021 season regardless of what happens this year.

How does it work?

Simple.  All fees paid beyond the $500 deposit by April 30, 2020 would qualify for a 25% gift card in our Refreshment Room to a maximum of $500 (usable during the 2021 season). 

So if you’re already sitting on your team fees for the season and you are willing to invest them in the league now regardless of whether we play or not, you would be entitled to a $500 gift card for 2021.  If you have already paid your league fees via post-dated cheques, you just need to advise Bob that it is OK to deposit them on the specified date.  If you could only come up with an additional $1,000 right now, you would qualify for a $250 gift card.  Any amount above the initial $500 deposit qualifies.  The idea is to keep the league buoyant in the event of a lost season.

If the 2020 season is cancelled, your fees would be directly transferred to 2021. In the event of a partial 2020 season, your fees would be pro-rated and any extra would be held for 2021. The league is prepared to take on a little Refreshment Room liability for next season in exchange for your investment this year to ensure our sustainability.

Please contact our SAMSPA Treasurer, Bob Reil with respect to your Deposit or to make any payments towards the balance of your 2020 fees. Direct other questions via email to Lynda Holden at admin@samspaslowpitch.com.

What if we want our deposit back?

Obviously we would like all of our teams to be returning to the league and where possible, investing in our future, however, if your team is unable to commit going forward, you will be entitled to get your deposit and rebate back.  Be advised that in this circumstance, you would not be eligible to play should the season be able to start this year and/or we would not be able to guarantee you a spot for 2021.Teams wishing to opt out must request a refund by April 30, 2020 by email to our Operations Coordinator (Lynda Holden) or our Treasurer (Bob Reil).

Next Steps

- The working group will continue to investigate options and report findings back to the Board

- I will provide updates to you every Friday on our progress

- The Board will prepare a go-forward strategy and present to the league through a virtual meeting at some point in the future

Please pass this on to all your teammates. This message will also be posted on our website.

Stay safe and remember to isolate.

Best Regards,
Joel McGovern,