Red Deer Minor Baseball has announced four players from the program and central Alberta will be sporting a Team Alberta jersey this August during the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara, Ont.
Nathan Flewelling, Gavin Galenza, Matthew Murray, and Jaxon Zanolli have been selected for the 20-man roster.
Red Deer’s Dwayne Lalor will be the team’s head coach joined by Chris James and Harold Northcott.
Lalor told the Advocate this is his second time being hired as the head coach and is an opportunity to coach some of the province’s best young players.
“The big difference with it being Canada Summer Games is it’s new for everybody because now you’re just a part of a huge event. When you play in a baseball tournament you’re the main focus and the reason the tournament is going on. But at Canada Games in sport Canada’s eyes it’s a stepping stone to develop players to play internationally on Team Canada,” he said.
He was the head coach during the 2017 games and an assistant in 1993 and 2009. During the 2017 games, Team Alberta came home with the bronze medal and said coming home with any medal during a national tournament is a big deal.
Lalor last coached in the Red Deer Minor Baseball system in 2017 and since then has coached in national tournaments for Team Alberta.
The age group for the Canada Games is under 17 and is essentially a competition between the best Grade 11 players across the nation.
“The level of play is pretty good. We’ve got players that will go on and be college baseball players or there will be some guys that will become professional baseball players and work their way up the chain. I mean most of them are hoping they get to the major leagues but you never know from year to year we’ve had some years where two or three guys that end up in the major leagues,” Lalor said.
“It’s a pretty neat thing to be a part of and to see what a player looks like as a 17-year-old and then what do they end up to be as they develop.”
Another unique part of the tournament is you get to meet a variety of different athletes from across the country and see how they train and handle themselves.
“It’s an eye-opener in that as baseball players we think that we work pretty hard and then you see a guy who runs 10,000 metres in track and his race is in five days and he just got back from a training run where he was out for an hour and a half,” Lalor said.
“Then all the baseball guys go ‘well maybe my fitness level could be a little bit better.’ You’re prepared for what you do but you don’t know how other sports prepare and this is something that they learn and then maybe they can incorporate stuff from other sports into their own development and help them get better.”
This tournament is a very big deal for some of the players as some games he said could potentially be on national television on CBC and TSN.
However, there could also be more on the line as Baseball Canada could be looking to fill roster spots on the U18 junior worlds team.
“It can be nerve-wracking but for most of the guys it’s a great learning experience and they get home from it and would really like to do it again if they get the chance.”