Island slo-pitch leagues adopt helmet rule after tragedy

‘It’s unfortunate when it takes something like this for us to wake up’

A tragedy in a weekend slo-pitch game has encouraged Vancouver Island leagues to implement mandatory helmets during game-play.

On Saturday, 32-year-old Chris Godfrey of Comox was hit in the head by a softball while playing in a tournament. He was flown to a hospital in Victoria and put on life support.

“I’ve been in the ball community for years, both umpiring and playing. This doesn’t happen,” said Greater Victoria Mixed Slo-pitch Association president Scott Wood.

The GVMSPA season is over, but players are voting this week on whether to implement mandatory helmets for the 2018 season.

“It’s a tragedy that it takes something like this for us to realize that we aren’t superhuman, and mistakes happen. If all we have to do is put a helmet on to stop that from happening then maybe we should,” Wood said.

“It’s unfortunate when it takes something like this for us to wake up.”

Wood said he hopes adding the rule will help strengthen the sport and show how close knit the slo-pitch community is, adding that Port Alberni, Comox, Courtenay, Campbell River, and other leagues around the Island are already requiring players wear helmets.

“I think it will show the solidarity of the sport, and how much we care about one another,” he said.

Jason Dumont, president of the Sooke Slo-pitch League, said the league discussed mandatory helmets a couple of years ago, but nothing was decided.

“I think it’s probably a good idea,” Dumont said. “We haven’t had a meeting about it yet, but I am going to push towards it.”

He explained that people might want to decide for themselves whether they want to wear one, but the league will be taking a vote at its next meeting.

“Accidents can happen, especially playing a sport like this,” Dumont said. “All it can take is a ball to the head and it’s game over, so people shouldn’t mind spending a few extra dollars on a helmet.”

A Go Fund Me Page has been started for Godfrey and his family, and more than $26,000 has been raised over the past four days.