It’s a dream many young baseball players share.
“I saw the Toronto Blue Jays play and I just always wanted to watch them play and wanted to be just like them one day,” La Ronge minor league baseball player Cooper Price said in between hitting ground balls at Going Yard Training Centre in Saskatoon.
But most won’t go to the same lengths to practice in Saskatoon as Price.
“He comes from La Ronge, so he drives quite the way to practice every day,” coach Logan Clewes said.
“It’s about a three-and-a half-hour drive — about seven hours round-trip for practice,” Price’s mom Tracy said.
The Prices decided to make the trek in for fall ball twice a week after the 14-year-old pitcher reached a plateau in La Ronge, Sask.
“I didn’t really think about playing triple-A or double-A baseball at all really, I just played with who I knew from school (in La Ronge), but after that, it was kind of like we might not have a team (to play on),” said Price, who also plays shortstop.
“It’s not an opportunity that we have in La Ronge and you have to be closer to a city to do it. And I felt just because we live in La Ronge didn’t mean he should miss out on this,” said Tracy, who often runs errands while Price practices. “It’s the sport he loves.”
While fun is a priority at practice for the 14-year-old, he recognizes his time at practice is precious.
“I’m here to do work, and I put in that work. I don’t fool around as much as I would like to honestly,” Price said.
His coach Logan Clewes notes that he’s a promising young athlete: “He has tremendous skill, but more importantly, he’s a hard worker and he plays the game with intensity and he’s an awesome teammate.”
The young athlete’s dedication is paying off.
“He develops. Like month over month, you can see more control in the pitching, better swinging, more confidence, which is the biggest thing with him and lots of kids this age,” Tracy said.
Price doesn’t discount how much his mom helps his development: “She’s MVP, honestly, she puts as much work as I put in for this sport.”
He also knows that he’s in a fortunate position that many young athletes in the North aren’t privy to: “Some kids would die to have this opportunity.”
Clewes, who has been coaching minor baseball for the last seven seasons, sees improvement in sports programming in Saskatchewan, but hopes it will improve further.
“The province is getting a little bit better about making baseball more widespread throughout it, but it hasn’t reached those northern areas yet.”
Until the population in the north increases or the volume of baseball players improves, Price is determined to make the trips pay off.
“To see how far this sport can take me,” he said. “If I can get a scholarship, that would be the best feeling in the world, honestly.”
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