Off-season baseball program is ready to move outdoors

baseball program

The program reinforces proper fielding technique.
Photo: Jeff Gaye

baseball program

WCWO Rémi Nault (pictured) and 4 Wing Commander Col Paul Doyle visited the players at their practice last week.
Photo: Jeff Gaye

baseball program

Accuracy is emphasized over velocity.
Photo: Jeff Gaye

Jeff Gaye

MCpl Dale Perry really loves baseball.

MCpl Perry works in the refinishing shop at 1 AMS. He has benefited from American coaching since the age of 10 with a Boston Red Sox scout, he’s played “A” level minor ball with a Montreal Expos affiliate club, and he’s taught alongside World Series champions at the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy.

Now he’s sharing his knowledge and experience with young players in Cold Lake. Since January, MCpl Perry has been teaching fundamental baseball skills to a group of young players twice a week in the Col JJ Parr Sports Centre gym.

“Baseball is a hard sport and you’ve got to put in a lot of practice to get better at it,” he said. “I find in Canada that most coaches don’t do a lot of practicing. The ratio should be about five hours of practice for every hour playing.”

Unfortunately, with our short season and relatively few diamonds, the focus is on playing the games. MCpl Perry’s program involves 33 sessions from January to May so players can learn correct technique and get some opportunities to reinforce it through repetition.

“We just focus on the core basics here—throwing, catching, hitting, a lot of those. But then we also get into cutoffs, pop flies, line drives, how to run to first base, how to run to second base.”

Christa Pyke’s son Cole is in the program. She said he’s learned a lot, and he’s excited to get out on the grass this spring.

“It’s nice to see something other than hockey come to fruition in Cold Lake. My kids are both hockey kids,” she said.

“They’re both starting to show some interest in baseball, so it’s nice to have someone like Dale here.”

Lincoln Audette is enjoying the instruction, though on the night The Courier visited a hard grounder bounced off his glove and hit him on the nose, and another one bruised his shin.

“It’s pretty good, when I’m not getting hit every time!” he said. “I’ve learned stuff that I didn’t know.”

And that, MCpl Perry says, is the point.

“If you love the game you’ve got to share big time, and hopefully it becomes contagious that way,” he said. “This is for anybody who wants to learn, from ages seven to 12. I’ve got individuals here who’ve never put on a glove before, I’ve got guys here who play rep ball. So in a way you’ve got to be an individual instructor for all 17 kids because there’s no two here that are the same.”

And his motivation?

“Paying it forward is a big deal. You have to pay homage to those who taught you.”