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Rode: Warawa excited to be back coaching Red Deer Braves

Darcy Warawa brought an impressive resume with him to the Red Deer Archon Braves U15AAA baseball program.
Danny Rode is a former Red Deer Advocate sports reporter.

Darcy Warawa brought an impressive resume with him to the Red Deer Archon Braves U15AAA baseball program. 

The Innisfail native, who was named the Braves head coach this season, has coached for 24 years, winning a number of provincial championships at various levels, and coaching at the provincial, national and international levels. 

“I started coaching after I graduated college in the States,” he said. “I finished and got my degree from Northwest State University and my first job was as a recreation programmer in Rocky Mountain House.” 

Warawa started coaching with the Bantam AA team, spending eight years in Rocky. 

“At the same time I was heavily involved with the AABC (Alberta Amateur Baseball Council) and they ran the Canada Summer Games and Canada Cup teams along with the Alberta Summer Games and zone tournaments. So I was involved with those programs. 

“I was also involved with their winter camps and with a program which invited kids down to spring training. It was great to have the opportunity to be around the young kids and surrounded by some high level coaches, who I could steal information from.” 

In 2005, Darcy and his wife Sasha took a journey and moved to Italy for a year, where he coached junior and semi-pro teams. 

“That was a great experience,” he said and had to laugh at how he got there in the first place. 

“It all came down to a rumour,” he said. “When I was coaching bantam in Rocky, one of the parents asked me about a rumour that I was moving to coach overseas. I laughed and said it would be cool but no. 

“I was also working with the AABC and Les McTavish was the director and we talked almost every day and he said he heard the rumour. I said no but it would be great. Les was a scout with the Seattle Mariners and he had talked with their head scout for Europe who lived in Italy. 

“He asked me if I would be interested in him sending my resume to him to see if there was anything open and four months later I was in Italy.” 

In the beginning, it was tough because he didn’t speak the language. 

“Not being able to communicate with players and coaches was a bit intimidating. I couldn’t even go to the corner store and order something. But it was a good life experience and I took it upon myself to learn the language.” 

He learned a lot of it by teaching baseball to kids in Grades 3-6. 

“They were taking English and so they would trade English for Italian and I learned from them. 

“And you had to pronounce the words right with the kids,” he said with a laugh. 

Warawa was invited to remain in Italy with his semi-pro team at the Serie A2 level in Imola, which is close to Bologna, but felt it was time to move on. 

“My wife was able to take time off work for only a year, plus we were thinking of starting a family.” 

Darcy’s first son — Maclane — was born in 2009, which halted his travel time. 

“It was time to take a step back,” he said. “But the last thing I did was coach with the Canada Summer Games team with Dwayne Lalor and Harold Northcott.” 

Two years later Warawa was invited to be a guest coach with the Canadian Junior National team, which spent 10 days at Major League Spring Training. He also was still playing with the Red Deer Stags and Razorbacks. 

In 2011, Shaw was born, and once again, he stepped back. In 2016, the family moved just outside Lacombe, and his eldest son indicated he wanted to get into baseball. 

“Up to that time, I was coaching lacrosse, soccer, basketball and hockey … whatever they played,” he said. “So I got back to coaching local teams.” 

He also contacted the Lacombe Minor Baseball when he arrived and asked if they had a rookie program. They didn’t so he took over and built a program that eventually was used by Baseball Alberta. 

“We have eight kids on a team and would practice for 45 minutes and play a game for 45 minutes,” he explained. “We’d start the game with the base loaded so that would involve the three kids on base, the batter and the kid on deck, so five of the eight would be doing something. If the batter cleared the bases, we’d reload the bases for the next batter, so it wasn’t boring. As well the kids would continually switch positions.” 

Warawa coached the Zone 4 team in the Alberta Summer Games as well as minor ball in Lacombe and eventually Stettler when Covid hit. He had great success in Stettler and Lacombe as well, winning provincials at the U13 and U15 levels. 

“I coached the same kids for three years (in Stettler),” he said. “But the past year it broke up. On good terms but kids were moving on and my boys were looking at the AAA programs in Red Deer.” 

Maclane is one of two imports among the 14 players on the Braves, joining Kolby Humphrey of Sylvan Lake. 

The Braves have five players back from last year in Jack Stevens, Ben McMahon, Matthew Morrow, Davis Cadieux and Carter Skjonsberg. 

Four players moved up from the U13AAA program in Kaleb Walker, Brooks Froese, Wyatt Schmitt and Easton Kelahear. 

“It’s a big jump for the kids because of the difference in size and strength but all four of these kids rolled in with good baseball ability, are good teammates and have the ability to contribute. That’s big.” 

The remaining three kids — Brody Jackson, Asher Rodzinyak and Nolan Lachapelle — all played AA last season. 

Darcy has four assistant coaches in Steve Jackson, Bryan Lachapelle, Tom Radzinyak and Northcott. 

“We really appreciate having Harold as our pitching coach. He’s not only great on the field, but a good mentor for the kids and the coaches.” 

Warawa indicated he’s using the early portion of the season to get everyone some time on the mound and at various positions. 

“We have 14 kids, all of whom can contribute in one way or another,” he said. “We play four games a weekend, so we need a lot of pitching, and so we want everyone to throw some. We will eventually slot kid where they fit the best. Some will start and others will be used in relief and start on occasion. 

“We also want to be three deep in all positions, so every kid, even outfielders, will take ground balls and the infielders will also take fly balls.” 

Warawa also stresses the kids will work as a team and support their teammates no matter where they played previously or at what level. 

Meanwhile Shaw made the highly regarded U13AAA team, coached by Davin Gulbranson. 

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at