© John DeCoste
John Ansara, shown here leading off second base during a recent game, is suiting up for the Kentville senior Wildcats this season. The Village of New Minas recreation director hasn’t played baseball in 10 years, but is enjoying the season so far. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
He’s a recreation director by day, and a senior baseball player by night. And so far, John Ansara is having fun.
Ansara, the recreation director for the Village of New Minas, joined the Kentville senior Wildcats earlier this season. The Wildcats, he explained, “had been working out in our gym (at the Louis Millett Centre) the past two off-seasons. I was there, of course, and one thing led to another.”
One night, the Wildcats were short a player or two for a road game in Truro, and head coach Ian Mosher asked Ansara if he would consider making the trip. Ansara agreed, and has been part of the team ever since.
Ansara, now 34, said he played growing up in southern Ontario, and at Vancouver Island University in British Columbia.
“The last 10 years or so, I’ve kept my hand in playing softball, everything from orthodox to slo-pitch. I love (playing ball) so much, I can’t stay away,” he said. “Playing softball was fun, and I attribute my staying sharp to playing softball, but there’s something about hardball that I can’t seem to put my finger on. My background is in hardball, and I’m really enjoying playing it again.”
Ansara has been playing mostly third base for the Wildcats.
“I soon realized I hadn’t made that throw (across the diamond) in a while. It was a bit of a challenge at first,” he said.
Like the rest of the Wildcats, Ansara is disappointed in the team’s start, which had seen the Cats win just one of their first nine games this season.
“Ian says he’s never had a season like this before (with so few players to count on),” he said. “I feel everything runs in cycles. Guys reach a certain age, and they have young families that take a lot of their time.”
However, with junior teams playing this season in both Kentville and Hantsport, he feels it’s likely only a matter of time before there will once again be lots of players.
“The Wildcats have such a rich history. I’m getting to be part of that, and to be a role model for younger kids,” he said.
For his own part, Ansara said he is looking forward to the rest of the season and whatever challenges - and surprises - it brings.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be playing baseball again,” he said. It’s been a really neat experience.”