Over a decade ago, some local parents whose kids love baseball, came up with the idea of having a competitive baseball event that would, at the end of the regular league season, take the top players in each age group, form new teams, and give them a chance to face off with the top players from other communities. “Heat Stroker” was born and takes place the first weekend in June.

This year, a record number of teams converged in Kanab for the 13th annual Heat Stroker event. Teams came from St. George, Cedar City, Hurricane, Beaver, Monroe, Gunnison. Forty teams (12 kids per team), their parents, and probably some grandparents and siblings and friends, filled Kanab’s restaurants, grocery stores, motels, gas stations and baseball fields.

Do the math. That is a lot of people coming to Kanab for a two-day event! Kenley Glover, manager of the Stage Stop Chevron, said Heat Stroker is one of the busiest weekends in Kanab. In fact, Kane County Recreation Director Tyler Cornell, using the Economic Impact Formula for estimating benefit, concludes that this year’s event brought more than $75,000 directly into Kanab’s businesses!

However, that is not the real story. The real story is that kids ages 8-13 were playing hard for two days, learning about winning and losing, sportsmanship, and improving their game.

Griffen Bone has been playing baseball since he was three years old. He loves pitching the fastball and hitting home runs. He works hard to improve his game, and doesn’t mind if his arm gets sore. Traveling to other towns to play is fun, too.

Ryan East is the “lefty” on his team, which can be a problem, but also a benefit (especially when he pitches). He describes himself as a decent hitter, and plans to improve to become a home run hitter. He likes how well his team worked together during the tournament.

Grayce Glover loves sports … basketball, track, gymnastics and baseball. She tried softball, but found it was just too slow for her. Baseball is her choice. She plays second base and also loves to pitch.

When kids love something, their parents are involved too. Mark Kabonic, President of the Baseball League, says, “When I was a kid, my dad coached baseball for 20 years because I loved the sport. I coach baseball today because my seven-year-old son is ‘into’ it.”

Moms get involved, too. Theresa Kabonic and her mom Debbie Hatch volunteered hours and hours, making homemade goodies and selling them at the concession stand at the ball park – 200 cinnamon rolls, lots of cookies, and Navajo tacos. They also sold candy bars, drinks and other snacks.

Heat Stroker is the biggest fundraiser, with revenues going to buy new equipment (pitching machines, bats, helmets, etc.) for the league.

It is the volunteers, dozens of them, who make the tournament possible. The only paid people are the field crew – the umpires. KHS ballplayers often fill these roles, yet another benefit for Kanab.

All of the ball fields in Kanab were used from sun-up to sun-down. Several visitors commented on the spectacular backdrop at the Kanab fields. Cornell projects that this event could grow to 50 teams next year, providing even more opportunities for our kids and our community. Kanab thanks all those who made this event a huge success.