GFI gearing up under new president and co-ordinator Joan Thomas
“To get a job done, give the task to a busy woman.” This quote certainly applies to Joan Thomas, operations manager at Gaia Green Products Ltd. and the recently elected President of the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament (GFI). Thomas is excited about the months ahead for baseball lovers in the Boundary and beyond.
“This year marks the 30-year anniversary for the GFI,” Thomas explained, “and we have a lot of fun in store for the biggest and longest running event in Grand Forks.”
The 12-team line up this year includes the defending champions Lewiston Idaho Truckers. Seven others have been confirmed including Victoria Mavericks, Seattle Studs, Reno Stars, Team Canada, as well as teams from the Fraser Valley and Thurston County. Teams from Russia, Pakistan and Taiwan have been invited, but not yet confirmed.
Local businesses are gearing up for the landmark event and Thomas is appreciative of the support offered by the proactive Grand Forks City Council.
“The high caliber of ball playing at the GFI attracts hundreds of visitors and is a great boost for the local economy,” Thomas stated.
Another big draw is the annual exhibition game featuring a local team. Over $2,000 was raised in 2009 at this special event, that is a fundraiser for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Society.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was named after the New York Yankees player who was diagnosed with the disease in the 1930’s and remains connected to baseball. Thomas hopes the 50/50 draws and some of the gate proceeds will raise even more for the society this year.
Thomas is part of this year’s elected board, which includes Secretary Susan Harris, Vice-President Dave Walsh, and Directors-at-large Kevin McKinnon and Bud Alcock.
Organizational abilities honed from over 20 years in senior management in the forest industry make the position of president a natural fit for Thomas.
Thomas, however, isn’t one to linger on her accomplishments. She is quick to point out the contributions made by former tournament co-ordinators Larry Semenoff, Gerry Foster and Everett Baker.
“This is truly a community event,” stated Thomas, “which is made possible with tremendous community support and the efforts made by former event co-ordinators.”
In addition to work and community volunteering, Thomas enjoys cycling, golfing, and reading. She and husband Eric are avid travelers, have visited over 43 countries and spent a year traveling through Eastern Europe on a motorcycle.
Now settled in the home they built overlooking Grand Forks, they are enjoying the quality of life in the Boundary.
The GFI runs for six days over Labor Day weekend, from September 1 to 6. Check out the GFI website for updates and detailed information on teams, stats and more.