Winning was wonderful for the Prince George Westcana Electric Axemen but the entire city won at the RE/MAX Centre City Baseball Canada Senior Championship.
We admit it - we've always had a soft spot for baseball, which is why the city's premier baseball park is called Citizen Field and the road into the facility is Del Laverdure Way, named posthumously in honour of a Citizen publisher and passionate community baseball supporter.
So our excitement is deep and genuine over both the Axemen's victory on the field, defeating the defending national champion Windsor Stars in the Sunday night final, and the gain for the community.
Let's start with the team.
Assembled and managed by former Citizen sports editor Jim Swanson, this team was built to be not just a gracious host but for success on the field as a legitimate contender for the title. Swanson brought up talent from the Lower Mainland to compliment the four local players - outfielder Brandon Hunter, catcher Jeremy Kral, second baseman Justin Fillion and outfielder Matt Stang - on the squad. A pitcher himself, Swanson stacked his squad with the best arms in senior men's ball from the coast, knowing that good pitching wins tournaments.
Not to be outdone, Swanson's handpicked local talent shone, particularly in the championship game when Hunter broke the back of the Stars with a grand slam and brought the hometown crowd to its feet in jubilation.
But the local team was far deeper than Swanson and his four players in uniform.
Swanson was the chairman of the tournament but he had a battle-tested organizing committee and volunteer corps behind him, led by co-chair Lance Brommeland and 2010 Citizen of the Year finalist Shawn Rice, who have done all this work before, during the 2009 and 2011 World Baseball Challenge. Former and current Citizen staffers also chipped in, along with Swanson's entire family.
In all, there were 33 people on the tournament committee, joined by numerous volunteers during the tournament, to make the event a great success and put Prince George's best foot forward to visiting teams from across the country.
The city gained for reasons both economic and practical.
Major sporting events inject serious dollars into the local economy, particularly when there are seven teams from out of town and six of them from out of province. The players from those teams spent five days in Prince George, staying at local hotels, eating at local restaurants and shopping at local stores. Based on the first-class tournament they took part in (hey, don't take our word for it - Baseball Canada officials raved about the organization, the volunteer commitment and the city support), those visitors will be returning to their hometowns with good things to say about Prince George, its residents and its hospitality.
The practical gains for Prince George are no less important.
As the community prepares to host the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the largest sporting event ever seen in Northern B.C., experience hosting other major tournaments is critical. Next year's World Baseball Challenge will be the third time Prince George has hosted international baseball teams. On the curling front, Prince George was home to the Road To The Roar playdowns in November 2009 to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Prince George Golf and Curling Club will host the 2014 B.C. Scotties Tournament of Hearts to crown a provincial women's curling champ.
Prince George will be blessed by the time the first athletes arrive in the winter of 2015 with an experienced volunteer corps and a service and tourism sector that knows how to meet the needs of visiting athletes.
So, good job, Axemen, for making Prince George a national senior men's baseball champion.
And great job to all of the hard-working individuals who made the tournament not just a reality but a first-rate success.
Your efforts paid off last week and will continue to pay off in the future.