The north is no excuse

by Jean-Gilles Larocque | January 6, 2015

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FILE PHOTO BY SCOTT HADDOW

I understand we are in January and you are wondering why we are talking baseball this early in the year. Well, according to statistics from the City of Greater Sudbury in 2012, close to 7,500 people play baseball, slo-pitch or fastball in our city. This is 2,000 people more than soccer and 6,000 more than football. We know it’s a pastime, but more and more people are taking the sport of baseball a little more seriously.

In the last three years, Sudbury has sent three players to American universities on baseball scholarships (Curtis Johnson, JD Bryce and Chase Davidson). This number is looking to double in the next few years. Our city has also produced a young lady by the name of Julia Jodouin, who played for Team Ontario in the Canada Cup this summer. Local associations are coming back home after provincial championships with hardware on a more consistent basis.

In the past three years, former Major Leaguers (Gregg Zaun, Roberto Alomar, Lloyd Moseby) have made Sudbury a regular stop on their schedule. Former Sudburian Dylan Rheault was drafted in 2012 by the Baltimore Orioles and is climbing up the minor league ranks. Several local fastball and slo-pitch teams have won provincial, national and international tournaments. All of these wonderful things have happened in our own little baseball world.

When you sit back and look at what has happened, you have to start wondering, why? The reason is local players and parents have stopped using the excuse of being from Canada and Northern Ontario. I can remember being at the sixth annual Sport Link Guts and Glory luncheon and listening to Lucio Fabris talking about badminton.

Fabris, who competed at the Commonwealth Games in 1978, told the crowd that when he trained locally, the school gym only had a 15-foot ceiling. He went on to say that the height of the ceiling helped him improve several aspects of his game in which he didn’t think he could have worked on being in another gym. This is a perfect example of nature versus nurture. Fabris’ story was inspiring to me, hearing him make the most out of the situation he was in.

What some people see as a disadvantage, we need to see as an opportunity. Find some indoor space and work on your game. People walk into a gym and think, “I can’t throw here, it’s too small.” Then throw against a brick wall and see how hard you can throw the ball into the wall from certain distances.

I truly believe that players who put quality time indoors become better fundamental players when they get outdoors in the spring and summer. When people see a fence outdoors they want to hit home runs. When you are indoors, you simply concentrate on your mechanics. Remember, you are limited by your imagination and the only ceiling life has is the one you put on it.

Jean-Gilles Larocque is the owner of The Baseball Academy. Visit thebaseballacademy.ca.

 

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