Baseball Sask aims to attract girls and offer more training
Three years ago, Saskatchewan didn’t have enough girls participating in baseball to put a provincial team together to compete at the Canadian Baseball National Championships. However, despite the frigid temperatures and snow-covered diamonds, a group of young women are at winter training camps in Saskatoon.
“We decided let’s start doing some off-season training, to get everyone improving their level of skill and make Team Saskatchewan competitive again at the national level,” Nathan Bourassa, the head coach of the under-16 team, said.
It wasn’t for a lack of talent that the team hasn’t found success at the Canadian level, but rather for a lack of opportunity.
“In North Battleford, we don’t have a girls team, because I’m the only girl who plays baseball, so I just kinda play with the boys,” said Kaitlin Tarasoff, who plays centre field, shortstop and pitcher on both the girls and boys teams.
Kyle Fredlund, 16, is from Saskatoon and has been playing baseball for almost a decade, but has barely ever played with girls, “There might have been one or two girls who played with me but as I got older I was always the only girl on the team.”
“A lot of communities have just a boys team, or what’s viewed as a boys team, not a baseball team. It might be kinda tough for (girls) to get into the sport,” Bourassa added.
Barely any of the participants at the Baseball Sask development camp have played with girls. They understand that the prospect of joining a boys team as a girl can be daunting.
“They would have thought they might not be good enough, or didn’t think that they could compete at the level of the boys,” Fredlund said.
So far, only one all-girls baseball club exists in the province, the Saskatoon Royals. Had the team not existed, Teya Hunter would have never played the sport.
“It would stress me out to play on a team with all boys honestly. Having that one team that’s your family, it’s really nice and it made it really, really easy,” said Hunter, who plays first base.
“It was more relaxed I guess. You’re not trying as hard to fit in with them. You’re not different competition, boys think like ‘Oh it’s a girl,’ so they’re not as good, but here it doesn’t matter,” Tarasoff said of her experience playing with girls for the first time.
“You make some really close relationships with the girls on your team. It’s really nice because I have some friendships with these girls that last me throughout the year and I love talking to them,” Hunter said during the development camp at Going Yard training centre.
Through sessions like this winter one, Baseball Sask is hoping to encourage and raise awareness about the growing popularity of baseball in female circles.
“With baseball we’re hoping that five years from now people don’t ask the question ‘You play baseball? You mean windmill underhand?’ They know there’s both sports,” Bourassa said, referencing the common misconception of grouping softball and baseball together.
“Knowing that there’s other girls out there that are better than you makes you want to push harder,” Tarasoff added.
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