George KokaPioneer Baseball / Softball / Soccer 2012
Early in 1971, when Ladner Minor Baseball was in its infancy stages, George Koka accepted an invitation to umpire nine and ten year old boys. Having played softball himself for several years, he took to the position easily. Over the years as an umpire, George advanced up the divisions until in 1979, when the Delta Dodgers were starting up their team, he was approached by the Umpire in Chief & President of the Vancouver & District Umpires Association to step up to the “big leagues”, the newly formed Juveniles, which he did the following year. George travelled around Richmond, Delta and Surrey, umping games wherever the Delta Dodgers played.
About that time, George also returned to his roots, umpiring a nine and ten year old boys baseball tournament again for Ladner Minor Baseball Association. He also made time to coach his son’s baseball team, along with co-coaching his two daughters’ softball teams with his wife. One way or another, George was always at the field. In the off season, he coached his son’s soccer team.
Time marched on, and despite a sabbatical from sports to battle Hodgkin’s disease, George returned as President of Ladner Men’s Softball in the spring of 1987. He stayed in this position, while also coaching, for nine years, until his cancer returned in 1996. George again underwent treatment and again came out on top. He was told to slow down a little.
George was instrumental in continuing to keep the Ladner May Days Fastball tournament alive and running, and to this day, he still assists with its organization. Under his leadership, upgrades were made to Hawthorne Park and Hawthorne School diamonds. Through partnership with the Corporation of Delta, George oversaw the building of Dugald Morrision Park. The batting cage at Ladner Elementary School Park was also built under his tenure. George continues his active involvement in the community by organizing the Ladner Legion golf tournament and by managing the annual Delta Christmas Hamper distribution. This is him slowing down!
Our community is indeed fortunate to have such an individual as George Koka. He has tirelessly provided leadership, coaching, umpiring, and been a builder and pioneer for baseball and other sports in Delta for the past forty years.