Not everyone has the ability to play multiple sports at an elite level.
Kelsey Lalor did just that when she played basketball for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and baseball with Team Canada.
She proved to be one of the best female baseball players in the world when she was named to the All-Star team at the 2018 World Championships in Florida.
Now she’s added a third sport to her resume.
After three years with the U of S, she transferred t0 Boise State University, joining the Broncos softball program. Three years later the 24-year-old Red Deer native has been invited to attend the Softball Canada tryout camp June 9-12 in Ontario.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun although I’m not sure where I fit in,” she said.
“It’s really cool to see the body of work I put in over the last three years is paying off. I’m really excited to get this opportunity and to get the opportunity to play with the best players in the country and learn from some of the best coaches.
“I can’t wait to just be around players and coaches with so much experience and knowledge … to be around Olympians and potentially be their teammates.”
But baseball isn’t out of her mind.
“It’s not out of the question and I can see myself going back there someday. I love baseball and Baseball Canada holds a special place in my heart for sure. It shaped me into the athlete that I am today. But I’m looking forward to running with this softball opportunity and see where it takes me. To let everything unfold as it’s supposed to and figure things out later.”
Kelsey is coming off an impressive final season with the Broncos where she was selected to the All-Mountain West first team and to the second team for the NCAA Pacific Region.
Kelsey led the Broncos in runs with 39, hits with 56, doubles (15), RBIs (46), total bases (110) and tied for first with 13 home runs. He had .368 batting average, a .724 slugging percentage, a .429 on-base percentage and an impressive 1.153 OPS (on-base play slugging).
“It turned out great, all the work I put in paid off,” she said. “I had an amazing group of teammates which made it fun and even better when we’re playing well.”
Despite their impressive season that saw them ranked in the top 25 in the country at one point, the Broncos didn’t get an invite to the NCAA championships.
“That was disappointing,” said Lalor. “We had a big turn-around this season and finished just behind San Diego State in the Mountain West. We had five losses and they had four.
“We were ranked toward the end of our non-conference season but they looked at teams from the Power 5. Still we had a great season.
“There were several of us who made the all-star teams which was rewarding to get that recognition … to be with a group capable of playing at that level and drawing attention to what we were doing … to get that recognition across the country.”
Kelsey still misses basketball.
“Boise State was the right opportunity for me … the right environment as a college athlete but I miss basketball. I give my time at the U of S and with the sport a lot of credit for who I am as a person and as an athlete.”
Lalor indicated she was always interested in playing in the States and even had softball in the back of her mind. So when she was looking around to make the move Boise State contacted her.
“It was a perfect fit. Everything I was looking for in my college career.”
Being one of the premier female baseball players in the world helped her make the transition to softball.
“There’s a lot of similarities and obviously some differences,” she said.
Kelsey played centre field with the Broncos, a position she was used to, playing outfield with Team Canada.
“The experience I had with the Canadian National baseball team contributed to who I am as a softball player. Getting to compete at the international level forced me to grow up and mature quickly because of such high level of competition. Having those experiences every day forced you to be the best version of yourself.
“Also having baseball worlds attached to my name was huge for me to get into the softball world.”
The defensive side was similar for both sports. Hitting was the difference.
“I spent a lot of time hitting once I got to Boise State and it was cool to see my development. It was similar in a lot of ways but different as well. I made small changes to my swing but nothing drastic.”
Kelsey’s time at Boise State is over and she’ll spend the next two years getting her elementary teaching degree at the University of Alberta. She’s hoping to help coach the Grant MacEwan University women’s basketball team as well.
“Both my parents (Kathy and Dwayne) are teachers and I always wanted to teach and to be around kids and help them learn.
“It’s going to be different not playing but if I can help coach it’s something I would like to do down the road. I’d love to coach at the college level.”
This summer Kelsey is the Director of Game Day Operations for the Sylvan Lake Gulls.
“I helped with that last year. Now I just have a little more on my plate. It’s a great group to work with and exciting a they’ve added a bit more this year to make it even a better experience for the players and fans.”
Kelsey will be away at the Softball Canada camp in early June.
“How long I’ll be away depends on what happens after that first camp,” she added. “It’ll be a great experience to play and see how far I can go. Every year I gain more understanding about that sport and it’s exciting to get the chance to play after college is over. Not everyone gets that opportunity.”
Whether she’ll be with Softball Canada or with Baseball Canada there’s a good chance Kelsey will be playing somewhere, and she hopes one day in the Olympics.
“Here’s hoping,” she said.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at email@example.com