Since he was 15 fastball has been part of Aaron Clements life.
Growing up in Lethbridge he got into baseball when he was eight, but switched to fastball when he was 15 and never left.
“The Lethbridge North Stars Fastball Association started in 1965 with juvenile and junior teams and I was asked to play on the juvenile team,” explained Clements, who played shortstop, second base and eventually first base. “I knew the majority of the guys on the team so that was good and I really enjoyed the sport.”
Over the last 50 years Clements has played, coached and worked in the executive at all levels. For his dedication he was inducted into the Softball Alberta Hall of Fame on Oct. 16 in Camrose.
“That was a surprise and a real honour,” he said.
He got into coaching while still in Lethbridge, helping with the junior men’s team in 1977. In 1979 he moved to Airdrie where his coaching career took off. He worked with the peewee boys’ team for two years before moving to Red Deer full time in 1981.
“I worked with the boys’ program from 1982 to 1998 then switched to girls in 1999 and I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” said Clements. “One of the main reasons for switching was that there wasn’t that many boys’ programs.”
He originally was involved with the Red Deer Sliders, which started in bantam and moved up and was one of the top girls’ teams in the province. Morris Lansing was the head coach with Clements and Dick Feser assistants. Clements first year with the Sliders saw them win the provincial bantam title and compete in the nationals in Winnipeg. Overall the coaching trio were together for five years — two at bantam and three at midget.
Clements, who received the City of Red Deer’s Sportsman’s Award in 2002, eventually went out on his own and has been a head coach at all levels up to and including senior women, where he presently coaches with the Topco Oilfield Panthers in the Red Deer Ladies Fastball League.
During his time as coach he has qualified for four Canadian championships at the bantam, midget and junior levels, coached in four Western Canadian championships and five Alberta Summer Games – two with the girls.
In 1999 he was the head coach for the boys’ Team Alberta at the Western Canada Summer Games and coached the girls at the 2011 Western Canada Games. He was also head coach for Team Alberta’s U21 female squad at the 2013 Canada Summer Games, which is one of his coaching highlights.
“That was one of my ultimate goals. I can take that off my bucket list,” he said with a laugh.
He also started the Red Deer College Queens team in 2003 and while the league never did receive full time status with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference they played until 2010.
On the executive side, he became involved with the Red Deer Minor Softball Association in 1982 and was on the board until 2012. He was the president from 1989-1991.
He also worked with the Alberta Association as vice-president in charge of minor ball from 1992 to 1997. He was Zone 5 district organizer in 1998 and 1999, Alberta president from 2000-2008 and past-president in 2009-2011.
He was also involved nationally as provincial delegate, supervisor for the Slo-Pitch Canadian championship and member of the future of the Games committee.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with the sport and plan on being involved for as long as I can,” he said.
Clements enjoys working with the senior Panthers, who competed in the senior B Western Canadian championship.
“There was a time when the Red Deer League wasn’t that good as it was just coming together, but it’s improved a lot over the years and it’s good competition,” he said. “It’s changed so that it meets everyone’s needs.”