Québec Wins Women’s Nationals on Home Soil

  • July 25, 2006

Team Québec succeeded, Sunday, in its bid for the 2006 Women’s Invitational Championship crown, defeating Alberta 5-3 in a hard fought final at Sanscartier Park in Gatineau, Qué.

Québec outfielder Stephanie Savoie was 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in three runs en route to the championship title. Pitcher Marie-Josée Tremblay scattered just three runs on three hits over seven innings to record the victory.

Alberta right fielder Pam Fox was 2-for 3 in a losing effort, driving in one, while pitcher Heather Northcutt took the loss.

In a battle for the bronze, Ontario (black) triumphed over Nova Scotia 7-3 on the heels of four Nova Scotia errors and five unearned runs. Infielder Kate Psota was 2-for3 with one RBI as pitcher Cindy Saavedra pitched a scoreless seventh inning to record the victory and ensure the third place finish.

Nova Scotia pitcher Sarah Burgess threw six innings, surrendering just two earned runs and striking out five in a losing effort.

In the first semi-final, Québec defeated team Ontario (black) 5-3 as catcher Geneviève Beauchamp propelled her team to victory with a 2-for-3, three-RBI performance. Backed by a strong pitching performance turned in by Martine Nadeau, who went seven strong innings for the victory, Québec awaited the winner of Alberta vs. Nova Scotia to determine their championship game opponent.

With Québec eagerly looking on, Alberta dominated Nova Scotia 7-0 to advance to the final on the arm of pitcher Sam Ostrom, who hurled a complete game shut out, defeating a previously unbeaten Nova Scotia squad. Second baseman Nicole Luchanski was 3-for-4 with three RBI, also sparking her team with stingy infield defence.

Candace Slaunwhite took the loss for Nova Scotia, pitching 6.1innings, allowing six earned runs on nine Alberta hits.

 

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Women’s National Team to be Announced at Lynx Game

  • July 20, 2006

Baseball Canada’s women’s national team roster for the Women’s World Cup will be officially announced, Monday, before the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx face-off against the Norfolk Tides at Lynx Stadium.

After all 18 players on Team Canada’s roster are introduced, one of the athletes will throw out the first pitch as a prelude to the 12:05 p.m. start. The athletes will then be in attendance for the game and will depart for Taipei, Taiwan, the site of the 2006 World Cup, early Monday evening.

Canada finished third behind the United States and Japan, beating Australia in the bronze medal game at the first-ever Women’s World Cup in Edmonton, Alta., in 2004.

Canadian head coach and Baseball Canada’s manager of baseball operations, André Lachance, is optimistic that this year’s squad should be able to either match or better their result in the team’s second World Cup appearance.

“Baseball Canada is extremely proud to be involved in the development of women’s baseball,” said Lachance. “Baseball opened its doors to women during World War II and has since taken on a whole new complexion with the advent of numerous international competitions for women. There are now plenty of opportunities for girls to play this wonderful sport and we hope that young girls will continue to play baseball because it’s now possible to play it at all levels.”

Canada will tune up for the World Cup with exhibition games against Australia, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong prior to opening their World Cup schedule against the United States, July 31 at Tien-Mou Stadium in Taipei.

Click here for Baseball Canada’s women’s national team program schedule.

 

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Baseball Canada Launches Championship Websites

  • July 19, 2006

Thanks to Baseball Canada’s new integrated series of websites for eight of its national championships, fans won’t miss a beat as they follow their favourite teams on their quest for gold.

The new websites include all the information pertinent to each respective championship, from championship news, host city information and accommodations information to schedules, standings, statistics, photo galleries and more.

Baseball Canada designed the championship websites in preparation for next year’s single-site championships in Québec, Qué., when all of its championships, will be held in the same city for the second time in history. Windsor, Ontario hosted seven championships in 2003.

“This will help solve many of the problems that we have had in the past with respect to having the ability to provide the information fans were seeking in a timely manner,” said Jim Baba, Baseball Canada’s Director General. “With the implementation of a universal system and putting everybody on the same page, that information will be organized much more effectively and accessed with much more ease.”

The websites will be updated periodically throughout the day ensuring that new content, results and statistics are available on demand. Fans will get their first glimpse of how the websites work when the Senior Women’s National Championships get underway Thursday in Gatineau, Qué..

“The women’s championship gives us an excellent opportunity to pilot our new technology because the event is being hosted a full month before the rest of our championships,” said Baba. “We’ll have the opportunity to see exactly how the technology works when it is applied and have ample time to tweak a few things if we need to.”

Click here for access to the various national championship websites.

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Baseball Canada Women’s Nationals Begin Thursday

  • July 18, 2006

The second annual Baseball Canada Women’s National Invitational Championship is set to get underway Thursday at Sanscartier Park in Gatineau, Québec.

The championship, which will be held from July 20 to 23, will feature the best female baseball players in the country, representing five teams from Ontario (2), Québec, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia and Ontario 2 will face-off in the tournament opener slated for 4 p.m. Thursday, July 20th while the bronze and gold medal games are schedule for Sunday afternoon.

“Anybody that makes it out to these games is going to get treated to a very good show,” said National Team Head Coach André Lachance. “The championship will also present a good opportunity for young girls who play baseball in the area to see first-hand that women’s baseball is healthy and that it is possible to play the sport at a very high level.”

In addition to fighting for national women’s baseball supremacy, the best female baseball players in Canada will also be fighting for a spot on Baseball Canada’s women’s national team, which will travel to compete in the Women’s World Cup July 31 to Aug. 7 in Taipei, Taiwan.

The national tournament will double as a try-out camp where Lachance and national team staff will select the team’s 18-person roster before departing for Taiwan on July 24th, less than 24 hours after the final out of the national championships.

“It’s definitely not a vacation weekend for team officials,” said Lachance. “It’s never easy to put together an 18-person roster for the World Cup because you know that everybody out there has a burning desire to wear the red and white at the World Cup. That being said, we have complete confidence that the athletes we chose will be ready and more than capable of well representing our country in Taipei.”

Click here for a complete tournament schedule.

Click here for the Baseball Canada’s Women’s National Team program.

 

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Baseball Canada Sets Roster for Cuba Training Camp

  • July 14, 2006

Baseball Canada announced, today, its roster for the National Junior Team’s final training camp and exhibition series in preparation for the World Junior AAA championships in September.

Click here for the complete roster.

The training camp, which will be held in Havana, Cuba Sept. 9 to 16, will mark the last of four steps in the selection process for Baseball Canada’s national junior team. A fall instructional league camp was held last September while baseball Canada staged a spring training camp in April followed by a series of exhibition games against Major League Baseball instructional teams on a tour of the Dominican Republic.

Of the 23 players invited to camp, 18 will be selected to represent Canada at the World Junior AAA Championships also in Cuba, Sept. 17 to 27.

“Throughout the year, all of these athletes have proven they can compete at a very high level and that’s why they’ve been invited to this camp,” said National Junior Team head coach Greg Hamilton. “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions to set our final roster for the World Championships, but Canada will be well represented.”

The Canadian contingent will play four exhibition games against the Cuban National team during the training camp.

Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 9 - Practice
Sunday, Sept. 10 - Canada vs. Cuba
Monday, Sept. 11 - Practice
Tuesday, Sept. 12 - Canada vs. Cuba
Wednesday, Sept. 13 - Canada vs. Cuba
Thursday, Sept. 14 - Day Off
Friday Sept. 15 - Canada vs. Cuba

 

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Puhl to Lead Canada at Olympic Qualifier

  • July 10, 2006

Fifteen year major league outfielder and Melville, Saskatchewan native Terry Puhl has been named as Baseball Canada’s field manager for the upcoming Americas Olympic Qualifier, which begins Aug. 25 in Havana, Cuba.

Widely recognized as one of the best all-round players born north of the 49th parallel, the 1978 National League All-Star will head Baseball Canada’s charges as they aim to earn their second straight Olympic berth for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of Canadian baseball,” said Puhl, who will be making his first contribution to a Canadian national baseball team. “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and we will prepare the team properly and effectively to compete. My job is to help the players prepare to play at that level and to get the best out of them in a short period of time. I’m really looking forward to that because I think I can help them.”

Puhl who still holds the career major league fielding percentage record with a .993 mark will look to employ that same defensive mindset to Team Canada.

“I want other teams to have to work very hard for their runs,” said Puhl. “I don’t want to give cheap runs away so we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on pitching, defence and being a fundamentally sound team.”

That’s not to say, however, that Puhl couldn’t light it up offensively.  A career .280 hitter and member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Puhl ranks in the top five among Canadian major leaguers in four major offensive categories – second in stolen bases (217), third in hits (1447), third in doubles (226) and fifth in runs scored (676). Only Larry Walker has played in more Major League games than Puhl’s 1531 with the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals from 1977 to 1991.

“The most important thing for me to do is to get to know our players as quickly as possible and begin to build some sort of chemistry on the team,” said Puhl. “That’s got to be one of the most important things for any manager to do because it can obviously carry a lot of momentum for you.”

Puhl’s coaching staff will consist of Boston Red Sox minor league hitting co-ordinator Orv Franchuck (Edmonton, Alta.), five-time Baseball Canada national senior team pitching coach Denis Boucher (Montréal, Qué), and Baseball Canada director of national teams Greg Hamilton (Ottawa, Ont.).

Now in his fourth season with the Red Sox, Franchuck will join Baseball Canada’s national senior team coaching staff for the fourth time after having served the team at the World Senior Championships in 1977, 1980 and 1981. Prior to joining the Red Sox, Franchuck spent eight years as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds from 1977 to 1984 and seven years as a scout and hitting coach in the Anaheim Angels organization from 1988 to 1994.

Franchuck has also worked within the Oakland Athletics system for eight years including three seasons as a hitting coach for the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers from 1998 to 2001, four seasons as the A’s roving hitting and catching instructor from 1998 to 2001 and one season as manager of the Single-A Vancouver Canadians in 2002.

Boucher makes his fifth appearance on the national team staff after having helped Canada at the 2003 Olympic Qualifier, the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier and the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The former left-handed pitcher spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues, compiling a 6-11 record and a 5.42 ERA in 35 games (26 starts) for Toronto, Cleveland and Montreal from 1991-94.

Hamilton, who also acts as Team Canada’s General Manger, was a primary force behind Canada’s fourth-place 2004 Olympic team and the 2006 Canadian World Baseball Classic Team – arguably the two best Canadian baseball teams ever put together. Much like he did for the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier and the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Hamilton scouts hundreds of players yearly, evaluating talent from a wide array of levels including amateur, collegiate, independent, minor- and major-league ranks in order to assure Canada is well represented in international events. In addition to his work in the front office, Hamilton was also a coach at the 2004 Olympics, the 2003 Olympic Qualifier the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

The winner and runner-up from the America’s Olympic Qualifier will receive automatic berths into the 2008 Olympic Games. The third and fourth place teams will each earn a berth into a second-chance tournament in 2007 where they will compete against similar teams from around the world for the final three spots in the Olympic field.

Canada and the other 12 teams in the field in Havana will be fighting for more than a spot at the Olympics. Teams must finish seventh or better to qualify for 2007 Pan-Am Games and sixth or better to qualify for the 2007 World Cup.

In preparation for the Olympic Qualifier, the Canadian contingent will head to a weeklong training Camp in Kissimmee, Florida from August 17 to the 23 where they will play a series of exhibition games against the American and Puerto Rican National Teams.

Canada’s first game at the Qualifier will come against the United Sates on Aug. 26.

 

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Play Ball 2006! Baseball P.E.I.

  • July 06, 2006

In the ninth of 10 provincial association profiles, Baseball Canada speaks with Baseball P.E.I. president Don Leclerc about the 2006 season.

BASEBALL CANADA (BCAN) – In no particular order, what five events or initiatives are you looking forward to the most for the 2006 baseball season?

1. Baseball Canada National Midget Championship

DON LECLERC (DL) – We’re obviously looking forward to hosting the Baseball Canada National Midget Championships in Summerside August 24 to 28.

BCAN – After having hosted the National Pee-Wee Championships for a number of consecutive years, how does the dynamic of this particular weekend change?

DL – It’s a bit more challenging, I think, for the host group. There was a lot of tradition associated with the Pee-Wee championship, the billeting of athletes and related things. The other main difference is that two fields will be utilised in contrast to the one field that was used for the other event. There are some challenges like those, but there are a lot of experienced people involved in the organization of this tournament and I think that everything will work out very well for them.

The Midget championship was scheduled to go to New Brunswick, but the host site changed their mind and Summerside was approached based on their history of hosting tournaments. Officials discussed it for a while and decided to undertake the challenge.

From a Baseball P.E.I perspective, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to grow baseball in the western part of the province, particularly in the younger age groups. When the younger kids can see the Midget athletes competing at a high level it will give them something to aspire to and become involved with.

2. Athlete Development Clinics with Morgan Carlile

*Morgan Carlile – Summerside, P.E.I.: Played for Baseball Canada’s 2004 National Junior Team; drafted by the New York Mets in 2004 MLB entry draft; posted ninth lowest ERA and third highest win total in Campbellsville (KY) University History; helped the Thunder Bay Border Cats to a Northwoods Baseball League Title in 2005; Named top left-handed pitcher on the 6th annual SLAM! Canada Canadian College All-Star Team.  

DL – We’ll be booking 25 clinics with Morgan across the province for kids aged 8 to 12-years-old between mid-July and the end of August. Morgan, will be home with his family this summer and when we learned that he would be here and available we thought that would be a good fit. He’s a tremendous young man apart from his baseball abilities and is an excellent guy to be working with this age group. Helping Morgan will be members of a 12-person group of high-performance coaches.

I think it’s a big deal for the kids to have the opportunity to go to a clinic that’s hosted by somebody from P.E.I. because they can see first-hand the results they can achieve with commitment and hard work. These kids are going to have a nice positive experience.

3. Increased Registration

DL  - We’re extremely pleased to have seen our team registrations go up from 56 teams to 87 teams this year. I think some of that is due to an increased focus on trying to grow baseball from the bottom levels on up. For a number of years the focus may have been on Selects programs, the Canada Games program and other related programs. We really believe that you need to nurture the growth you have at the grassroots level. We’ve encouraged a lot of local association to become more involved with this movement.

We’re strongly promoting the Rally Cap Program within our associations in order to put significant focus on the younger age groups. The challenge we need to address is maintaining their involvement for the next 10 years.

This increase in registration numbers bodes very well for the future of baseball in the province if we can deal with it appropriately and if we make sure that each and every one of these kids has a positive experience that will bring them back next year.

BCAN – By adding so many teams to the system, certain challenges are bound to arise.  What kinds of challenges are you faced with and how are you going about tackling those issues?

DL – There are a lot of scheduling challenges because access to fields in many communities are somewhat limited since there could be a number of teams vying for the use of the same facility on the same night.  There are cases where two teams might try to schedule a home game on the same field where there’s very little flexibility. The way to deal with these is to keep the lines of communication open by meeting frequently and sharing as many ideas as possible.

Our new executive director Kelsey McIntosh has been a godsend and came on board on a very opportune time because he’s been able to devote a lot of time to these logistical issues.

4.  New Mosquito ‘A’ League

DL – For the first time, we’ve organised a provincial Mosquito ‘A’ League, which will be an adult-pitch league for kids who aren’t of the calibre to play ‘AAA’ or ‘AA’. There will be 16 teams from across the province in the new league that will participate in a single round-robin schedule, which means each team will face all other 15 teams once during the summer.

There will also be a mid-season tournament in Cornwall on the last weekend of July and an end-of-season provincial tournament at a site that has yet to be confirmed on the first weekend in September. We hope this will be an interesting and exciting summer for these kids, who were often left in house league situations that may or may not have been all that satisfying. It’ll just be fun for the kids.

BCAN – For those who are not familiar with the term, can you explain briefly what defines an “adult-pitch” league?

DL – The coach or a representative of the team at bat will pitch to his own team. There will be a player who will position himself behind the adult pitcher to field any balls hit towards that position. In addition, the umpire will not call balls and strikes, but will keep track of the number of times the batter swings and misses (there are no called strikes and no walks). For the complete Mosquito ‘A’ Rules visit http://www.baseballpei.ca/2006MosquitoARules.pdf.

5. Preparation for 2009 Canada Games

DL – We’re looking forward to discussions we’ll be having with groups from Charlottetown and Stratford, which will be two of the primary sites for baseball at the 2009 Canada Games tentatively slated to be hosted by P.E.I.. We’re looking to work with them towards preparing a bid for Baseball Canada to host the 2008 Canada Cup or the 2008 Junior Championships because we’d like to have a little bit of a trial-run of the system and the facilities here.

That would be a tremendous opportunity to showcase the sport of baseball in the province. I think the aftermath of hosting the Games would have a great impact on registration in baseball the following year.

Coming up!

Play Ball 2006! Baseball Newfoundland

 

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Canadians Prepare For All-Star Festivities

  • July 04, 2006

While Trail, B.C.’s Jason Bay is set to start in left field for the National League All-Stars, July 9 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, four other Canadians will participate in Minor League All-Star Games the same week.

Bay will play in the All-Star game for the second consecutive season after having won the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year Award. The 6’2”, 200-pound Bay is batting .283 with 20 homeruns and 60 RBI this season with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has established himself as one of the most complete outfielders in Major League Baseball.

"It's been surreal," said Bay who will be making hit first-ever start in the mid-season classic. "It is an unbelievable thrill for me. I'm probably going to be a fan again, just like I was last year. To do it here in Pittsburgh with Freddy is going to be awesome."

Two more members of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization have been selected to participate in the Eastern League All-Star Game. In his first season as a manager at the Double-A level, Tim Leiper (Ottawa, Ont.), who has been selected to manage the South Division in the Eastern League All-Star Game, has led the Altoona Curve to a 48-33 record thus far this season. Leiper has also served as a coach on Baseball Canada’s National Senior Team for four consecutive seasons, having helped the squad at the 2003 Olympic Qualifier, the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Meanwhile, Curve first-baseman and two-time Baseball Canada national team member Simon Pond (North Vancouver, B.C.) will also represent the South Division at the Eastern League All-Star Game. Pond, who represented Canada at the 2000 World Senior Championship and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is batting .295 with 51 RBI and 31 extra-base hits this season.

The Double-A Southern League All-Star Game will also feature a pair of Canadians – George Kottaras (Markham, Ont.) and Joey Votto (Mississauga, Ont.) who have also been selected to play in the MLB Futures game as part of the Major League All-Star Game festivities at PNC Park.

Kottaras, who will represent the South Division, is batting .273 with 8 homeruns, 19 doubles and 33 RBI Mobile Baybears. Early in his professional career while playing Single-A baseball for the Fort Wayne Wizards in 2004, Kottaras, who has Greek ancestry, joined the Greek National Baseball Team at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Votto, a two-time Baseball Canada national team member, is batting .326 with 17 homeruns, 53 RBI, 28 doubles with the Chattanooga Lookouts this season.  The 6’3”, 220-pound 22-year old represented Canada at the 2005 World Cup of Baseball and the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier, being selected to the all-star team in both tournaments.

 

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Baseball Canada President Elected to Delta Sports Hall of Fame

  • June 29, 2006

Baseball Canada president Ray Carter (Tsawwassen, B.C) has been inducted into the ‘Builders’ category at British Columbia’s Delta Sports Hall of Fame.

Carter is one of the most distinguished baseball people in Canada, having been involved with the sport for over 30 years. Before being elected as Baseball Canada president in 2000, Carter was the organization’s vice president from 1988 to 2000 in addition to acting as the chairman of Baseball Canada’s High Performance Committee, Human Resources Committee, Sport Development Committee as well as the Planning and Administration Committee.

“It was very exciting for me and it was kind of a shock because there are so many volunteers in this community of over 100,000 people that would be worthy recipients,” Carter said. “For me to be singled out, I thought that was very special. It’s quite an honour.”

A native of Vancouver Island, Carter moved inland to the Delta Region in 1975. He got involved in the local sports scene almost immediately with the Tsawwassen Amateur Baseball Association where he worked his way up from groundskeeper and coach to president in addition to spending 13 years with the Delta Parks and Recreation Commission. He later served as B.C. Minor Baseball president from 1988 to 1990 and the B.C. Amateur Baseball president from 1990 to 1998.

With the Delta region being a hotbed for sports, Carter felt right at home.

“I think it was a match made in heaven when I moved out here,” said Carter. “I liked the area and decided it would be a good community to live in and being sports-minded it was just natural that I got involved about as soon as I got here. When a friend invited me to help coach a team I was hooked.”

Carter, who currently also works as the president of RKTG Consulting and Engineers and sits on the Delta Police Board is one of the most decorated baseball people in British Columbia and all of Canada. In addition to receiving numerous volunteer awards within his own community, Carter was also the recipient of Canada’s Governor General’s medal for volunteerism in 1993.

“I really think that awards like these should be shared with other people and sometimes it’s a little awkward being singled out when I know there are so many other people that put in a tremendous amount of work,” said Carter. “The first person I would want to thank is my friend and business partner Dick Klassen, who first asked me to coach, because that was the beginning of what’s been a great ride for over 30 years.  The other is my good friend Don Cowan, the Toronto Blue Jays Scout, who encouraged me to go to Baseball B.C.”

Other inductees included skier Bronwen Thomas and former NHLer Gary Nylund.

 

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Over 2,300 Coaches Registered in New NCCP Training

  • June 27, 2006

The number of coaches seeking certification in Baseball through the National Coaching Certification Program has more than tripled over the last three months, growing to just over 2,300.

The surge in coaches seeking certification is attributed to the web-based Initiation Coach Program, where future coaches can acquire basic baseball specific training without having to leave the comfort of their own home.

Baseball Canada’s on-line training model is garnering a tremendous amount of positive feedback, not only from coaches in training, but also from other national sports organization who have demonstrated an interest in following in Baseball Canada’s footsteps. 

“I believe that many other national sports federations will take a close look at our on-line training program because it really responds to the need for more accessibility,” said Baseball Canada’s Operations Manager André Lachance. “In addition to being available at all times, the delivery system is interesting and interactive. Our committee is extremely proud to have been able to pioneer this kind of web-based training of coaches.”

The program is also receiving positive feedback from the Coaching Association of Canada.

“I think we’re going to see more and more sports moving in that direction,” said Cyndie Flett, the CAC’s director of the National Coaching Certification Program. “I think Baseball [Canada] has been very successful in launching the product and they’ve had a lot of buy-in. The five CAC consultants who each work with about 14 national sports organizations are all aware of Baseball Canada’s product and they have all presented it to their sports as a best practice and promote it as an idea to consider.”

In addition to having the luxury of completing their introductory training at their own pace, coaches can continue to benefit from the program after they’ve completed the on-line portion of their training. The NCCP Initiation Coach Program registration fee also includes access to an on-line library of coaching materials and videos.

“It made it really easy for me to learn what to teach the kids,” said Corunna Ontario’s Jon White, a first-time bantam coach. “It helps me a lot because when I started the season I didn’t know anything about coaching. Now I know the right drills to help the kids work on their skills. The program has taught me how to teach the kids to throw and hit more effectively among other things.”

Baseball Canada estimates receiving 3,000 registrations for its Initiation Coach Program during the course of the year.

 

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