For Jim Holmes, the decision to rename Malvern’s Wickson Trail Park softball diamond is heart-warming.
The motion to change the park’s name to the Gary Holmes softball diamond, after Jim’s late father, was adopted by Scarborough Community Council on Feb. 9. Gary Holmes was a long-time contributor to youth softball and the Malvern community.
“Growing up, [my siblings and I] had to share our father with a thousand other kids,” Jim Holmes said. “It’s really nice to know that our community truly appreciates him and will miss him as much as we do.”
The elder Holmes started coaching softball in Malvern in 1986, and soon became an umpire. He was voted as Malvern’s umpire-in-chief in 1988. Eventually, Holmes passed on this position to his son, and went on to become president of the Malvern Softball Association. Throughout all of this, Holmes remained a coach, always dedicated to his team. According to his son, Holmes went out of his way to make sure all the kids on his teams went to practice and became better players.
Holmes also gave local children part-time jobs as umpires, getting them certified by Softball Ontario and Softball Canada. In addition, many improvements occurred within Malvern Softball while his father was involved, including new equipment and better parks to play in.
The campaign to rename the diamond at Wickson Trail Park was started two years ago by the younger Holmes, who wanted to recognize the hard work and dedication his father put into the community. Jim knew his father’s days were limited and wanted to show him his appreciation for everything he’d done.
“In his eyes, his [kids] and other kids needed him, and he was there for them,” Jim said. “He never considered what he has done anything that was exceptional.”
Jim started a Facebook group dedicated to changing the name of the park, which he said gained over 70 members within a day of its creation. Everyone had nothing but nice things to say about his father.
Jim also contacted Ward 42 Councillor Raymond Cho, whose office was very helpful in getting the process started. A request to rename the park was officially made at a Scarborough Community Council meeting Nov. 10, 2009.
Parks director Andrew Koropeski, who recommended the renaming, said that the request corresponded with city policies.
“There should be a direct relationship between the facility and the individual,” Koropeski said. “In this case, Mr Holmes was a major person involved in softball and youth groups at the park.”
Jim says that naming the park in his father’s honour goes beyond his contributions to softball. It’s also about appreciating the role his father had in making Malvern a better and safer place for kids to grow up.
“Each summer, Malvern Softball took around a thousand children and young teenagers off the streets and onto the diamond,” Jim said. “I truly pray that one day another Gary Holmes shows up.”