By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
During a night off at a tournament in Minneapolis, Team Toba baseball athletes kicked back with a mini golf tournament and team dinner.
Ending in a tie, they continued with a tiebreaker in the hotel with a trophy for the winning team.
Turns out, bonding and having fun off the field ignited their team spirit and tapped into their connection during games.
“Right after that, the next two to three days, we were on a run where we were amazing. I think it was directly related to that,” said Cody Benson, Team Toba Baseball Head Coach. “It was nice getting to know each other in a non-baseball setting.”
At one of their recent trips for the Gopher Classic, they finished in the top four out of 96 teams – the best finish a team from Manitoba has ever had at this event.
Gearing Up For Niagara
“After two long years off, our team is excited to be competing again at the national level,” said James Zamko, Baseball Manitoba Program Director.
The summer games will be their next competition together, and Cody said the buzz has been steadily growing.
“We’re also just starting to get our summer games gear fitted, and seeing the clothes gets us excited to be walking out at the opening ceremonies with the rest of Team Manitoba,” said Cody.
Impact of the Spotlight
As the venues fill up with spectators and folks from across the country tune in to competitions and stories, James said having baseball showcased in this way has a huge impact on the sport.
“It gives our young athletes something to strive towards as they cheer on players from their home towns. For the players and coaches participating in the event – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said James.
Pieces of Wisdom
Cody, who has been coaching Team Toba for the last four years, encourages his team to play with confidence.
“[Don’t be] scared to make mistakes or let the moment get too big – just go out and play your game the way you do,” said Cody.
When talking about the Canada Games experience as a whole, he said to enjoy the ride.
“Take in as much as you can. Go watch other sports. Make friends from other provinces. Cheer on your own province. Trade some gear to get your hands on whatever suits your style. Soak it all in, and have a blast.”
James reiterates that thought, and wants the athletes to relish the experience.
“You only get to play this sport for so long, and to be able to do it at a level such as this, is truly a great experience you will remember for the rest of your life. Everyone from our baseball community here in Manitoba will be cheering you on,” said James.
Follow Baseball’s Journey
In addition to participating in the Canada Games, Baseball Manitoba has a lot going on throughout the season.
“Outside of our Canada Summer Games team, we have seven other provincial teams (both male and female) competing at national or western events this summer. It is a very exciting time for Baseball Manitoba – best of luck to all our athletes and coaches,” said James.
To learn more about Baseball Manitoba, visit their website.