Local Sports: Claerhout brothers follow dad’s footsteps

There are a lot of variables to take into consideration, so one never knows what the future may hold.

So when asked about what sport he may eventually play down the road — that is if he has to choose between baseball and hockey — Spencer Claerhout isn’t thinking about it.

“I haven’t really considered it … I’ll just see where it all takes me,” said the 13-year-old, who is a mainstay on the Red Deer 13U Braves baseball team and one of the top young hockey players in the city, who hopes to make the bantam AAA Chiefs in the fall.

As of now he’s enjoying playing both sports.

“I think it’s important to play both … don’t spend all year in one and get burnt out. I know personally I love both sports.”

His older brother, 16-year-old Carter, also played both sports, but dropped out of competitive hockey and is concentrating on baseball.

‘I just play some rec hockey now,” he said. “Baseball is what I love.”

It’s little wonder the brothers find themselves on the ball diamond as they follow in the footsteps of their father Paul, who twice received the top catcher award at the Canadian senior AAA championships while with the Red Deer Riggers.

“I was always around the ball diamond watching my dad and my brother,” said Spencer, who plays a number of positions from catcher, to pitcher, shortstop and centre field. “It helps having both of them around to help me.”

“When I was a little kid I spent time at the park watching the Riggers. It was a good time and my dad got me into the game and I love it.” said Carter.

Paul, who is the head coach of Spencer and the Braves, did what he could to help his boys prepare for and be good at the game.

“We put up a batting cage in the shop at home, so they could get out and do what they love to do.”

“We use the cage at least once a week and he helps us and comments on our swing,” said Carter, who plays first base and the outfield for the Red Deer Carstar Braves, who will host the Western Canadian Championships Aug. 16-18 at Great Chief Park.

In fact both brothers will go to the Westerns as the 13U (Pee Wee) squad will head to B.C. for the Westerns after dropping a tough 5-4 decision to St. Albert in the provincial AAA final.

Paul has coached both boys.

“He’s coached me from the start and I love him coaching,” said the five-foot-eight, 160-pound Spencer. “He knows a lot about the game and stresses doing the little things correctly … that’s how you win.”

Carter agrees.

“He coached my last year in midget AA and he helps us a lot at home.”

Paul likes the way both his boys work at the game. They also have natural ability.

“Spencer is a natural athlete and he likes to work at it, whether it’s baseball or hockey,” said Paul. “Fortunately he’s good in both sports and enjoys playing both. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Spencer could follow in his father’s footsteps and play behind the plate.

“I love playing everywhere, but I think I like pitching the most,” he said. “I have a pretty good fastball and curve and I’m working on my change up.”

Carter caught a bit when he was younger, but being left-handed didn’t help.

“Up to bantam I caught … and I think my dad wanted me to but, being a lefty it didn’t fit. I enjoy playing first and the outfield and did pitch when I was needed.”

Carter, who turns 17 in September, has one year of midget AAA remaining.

“This season is alright, but I’d like to play a bit more … this was a developing year for me and I hope to be back next year and make more of an impact.”

He transferred from Notre Dame High School to St. Joe’s for Grade 12 and will work with Jason Chatwood in the baseball academy.

“I’m looking forward to that … Getting an opportunity to play more during the winter makes a huge difference.”

Spencer, who is at St. Thomas Junior High, will also attend the academy.

Spencer is looking forward to the Westerns, but went into the season hoping to go to the Nationals.

“We knew we had a chance to go somewhere, and we wanted it to be the nationals,” he said.

Carter hopes to get some exposure to college scouts.

“We’re looking forward to it as a team and it’s an opportunity to be scouted,” he said.

He hopes to receive a scholarship to the States in 2020, but if not he’ll attend RDC and take business.

As for the distant future both wouldn’t mind following their father and playing for the Riggers.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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