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Bates-Merrill slo-pitch tournament not happening this year

The Corey Bates and Nick Merrill Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament is not happening this year. Because of a lack of teams, the Bates and Merrill families have decided not to have the 13th edition of the tournament, but will continue the fund that supports a scholarship at ARHS, minor hockey and both Little League and bantam baseball. The families are looking at other fundraising options and are accepting donations.
The Corey Bates and Nick Merrill Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament is not happening this year. Because of a lack of teams, the Bates and Merrill families have decided not to have the 13th edition of the tournament, but will continue the fund that supports a scholarship at ARHS, minor hockey and both Little League and bantam baseball. The families are looking at other fundraising options and are accepting donations. - Darrell Cole

Fundraising tournament has raised close to $80,000 for community sports, scholarship

AMHERST, N.S. —

It’s one of the hardest decisions Ian Merrill has ever made, but one he feels there’s no alternative to.

There will not be a 13th Nick Merrill-Corey Bates Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament. At least not this year.

“Interest has really been dropping the last couple of years. It’s getting harder to get teams, so we’ve decided to take a break,” Merrill said. “It was a really hard decision to make, and even after we made it I kept thinking of going back and trying to pull it together.”

Merrill said the tournament almost didn’t happen last year, but a last-minute push managed to save it. However, looking ahead to this year, there wasn’t a lot of interest in the tournament that was scheduled for the Aug. 9 to 11.

The first tournament was held in 2007 in the weeks following the tragic motor vehicle crash just outside Amherst that took the lives of two young men who grew up in Amherst, played minor hockey and baseball here and played junior hockey with the Fundy Phantoms out of Parrsboro.

From there, the two families and their friends came together to make the tournament an annual event in support of the Corey Bates-Nick Merrill Fund with the money raised from the tournament going back to the community in support of a scholarship at ARHS as well as the Bates-Merrill Friendship Minor Hockey Tournament, Little League and bantam baseball and other community needs.

“The first few years it was growing every year. We had more than 20 teams with teams coming from as far as Halifax,” he said. “The last few years we struggled with rain and it became a struggle to get teams. A lot of the players who have played in the past tournaments are getting older and can’t play and a lot of Nick and Corey’s friends are older, have gotten married and have kids. They don’t have the time to play anymore.”

Over the years, Merrill estimates close to $80,000 has gone back into the community and while there won’t be a slo-pitch tournament this year the two families still want to support the four things that mean the most to them including the scholarship, the minor hockey tournament and Little League and bantam baseball.

“We’ve given Little League $1,000 every year and I’m really proud of that and we all love the new minor hockey tournament because baseball and hockey meant so much to Nick and Corey,” he said.

Merrill said while the tournament won’t happen this year, the fund will continue and the two families will get together soon to begin looking at other fundraising options. He isn’t ruling out holding another slo-pitch tournament next year or in 2021.

If it comes back, it will just be a one-day event.

“The Bates-Merrill fund is not going anywhere. We’re still taking donations and we’ll be looking at other fundraising ideas, like maybe selling tickets on a snowblower or something like that,” Merrill said. “We’re not done by any means, we’ve just decided that it’s not a good year for the softball tournament. We’ll be back.”

He said a number of the tournament’s sponsors have already indicated they still intend to contribute to the fund. Anyone wanting to make a donation can contact Brenda Merrill at 902-669-1714.

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