Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette confirmed the results of the Name-the-Park contest.
“The choice for the full park [formerly called Haines Park], everybody had a chance to vote on it, and it was Fruitvale Memorial Park,” said Morissette. “The one on the upper field primarily for girls softball is going to be named Ella Matteucci Park.”
The Name-the-Park contest was part of the village’s Haines Park development project that gave Beaver Valley residents the chance to vote on five choices for the main park and three for the upper park.
Matteucci, who now lives in Kitchener, Ont., says the recognition from her hometown has been a humbling experience. In addition, The Toronto Blue Jays “Jays Care Foundation”, not-for-profit foundation recruited Fruitvale baseball product Ella Matteucci last week as a ‘Girls at Bat’ ambassador.
“I am so unbelievably proud to be from Fruitvale – it’s where it all started for me,” Matteucci told the Times. “It is such an honour to know that my name will be associated with a place that I hold so dear in my heart.”
Matteucci’s accomplishments in hockey and baseball are many, and the honour appropriate, as the ballpark lies beside the Beaver Valley Arena where she grew up playing hockey.
The two-sport athlete has played both sports at the highest level winning a 2011 Esso Cup title (Canadian Female AAA hockey championship) with the Notre Dame Hounds, an NCAA championship with Clarkson University in 2014, and skated in the Canadian Women’s Professional Hockey League with the Markham Thunder.
In baseball, Ella has won three national championship trophies as a member of Team BC and Team Ontario (2), and, as a part of Team Canada, played a pivotal role in a silver medal victory at the 2015 Pan Am Games. She also played for Team Canada in the 2014 and 2018 IBAF World Cup of Baseball, winning bronze in 2018.
“With Sports I have been lucky enough to travel to parks and arenas all over the world,” said Matteucci. “But there is nothing like the pride I feel that the place I spent a majority of my time, will continue to give young athletes the same opportunities that I had.”
Her Fruitvale roots have grounded Ella and through it all she has remained humble, kind, and committed and – all in all – just fun to be around.
“I can’t decide what I enjoyed more growing up,” she recalls. “May Days, Nitehawks games, Summer parks program, or Little League tournaments.
“I grew up watching my mom and dad play on Haines field, luckily many years later I was able to play there with them, along with my brother Eric!”
Ella comes by her talent honestly, born into an athletic family, her greatest influence comes from her father Paul; a player and coach, who was key in Ella’s development into an elite athlete.
“When I was preparing for Team BC and Team Canada, my dad would throw me hundreds of balls in those fields. Even when I was playing softball he would pitch windmill to me so I was used to the different pitchers release.”
Natural talent aside, her commitment, determination and hard work has brought Ella success, accolades, and awards at every level.
But this one, voted on by her community, she may savour even more.
“There are 100 things I could say about that park,” Ella added. “But really who needs a 27 year walk down memory lane. I’m just so pumped to be recognized by the Fruitvale community.
“Fruitvale honestly is my favourite place in the world.”
Matteucci is still playing professional women’s hockey and is part of the five-team Toronto Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, yet, games are currently suspended due to Ontario’s lock down. She is also participating in off-season training with Team Canada and Team Ontario baseball teams in hopes the nationals will go in Stonewall, Man. this year.