By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Team Toba softball teams will be on the ground in Niagara in just over two months. That means dialing in on team training and focus – and getting excited! Find out more about our provincial teams and what goes into the prep before stepping onto the diamond.
Back to the National, Multi-Sport Stage
Over the last two years, Manitoba was the only province in Canada that held provincial championships both in 2020 and 2021. But Don Klym, Executive Director of Softball Manitoba, said they’re ready to take on Niagara.
“We’re just ready to play some outdoor ball and out-of-province ball against the best teams we can in our age categories.”
Team Toba Takes Shape
The men’s team, who Don said has a roster based out of Cross Lake with many players in hockey in their off season, are heading to BC and Saskatchewan before Games to get in some competitive practice.
“Head Coach David Muswaggon has things pretty well in hand and they just started strength and conditioning programs with Jeff Wood here in the building,” said Don.
The women’s team prep is in full swing, too.
Head Coach of the women’s team, Holly Kitchen, said they’ll be traveling to three tournaments in Kansas City, Sioux Falls, and Tulsa this summer.
In Tulsa specifically, the athletes will be in similar settings that will develop familiarity with the Games environment.
“Tulsa is a similar style of tournament to Canada Summer Games,” said Holly. “It is a longer tournament than just a weekend, and we’ll have the girls stay together, so it’s a very similar experience as they would at the Games.”
The Mental Game
They’ll also be focused on goal setting, team culture, and learning how to handle failure.
“Our game is a sport of failure, so it’s really important that the girls are able to embrace that, understand it, and move on from any adversity. Or, things that go wrong throughout a game or a tournament, so that they can re-set and re-focus for the next play or game, or whatever it may be,” said Holly.
Holly and her coaches are also teaching the girls how to handle pressure and high-stakes situations.
“Visualization, reflection, breathing techniques, meditations – all those little things we can add into our mental prep training so that we’re able to handle all the situations that come our way.”
Words of Advice
There’s a lot going on at the Canada Summer Games – the competitions, ceremonies and events, all with and amongst thousands of Canadians together in celebration of sport.
It helps to get advice on some key takeaways for such a big and exciting experience.
Don said to have fun, and remember to respect your coaches and fellow athletes, officials, and volunteers.
“Let’s go out and have fun and play our best,” said Don. “But the key thing is you only got one shot at this. You’re playing each province once and focus on what you have to do, you know, those two and a half hours you’re on the diamond. You’re playing ball, let’s get the win and move on from there.”
Leading up to Games, Holly believes the dedication is crucial.
“Embrace the opportunity and the challenge we have ahead of us. Whatever you put into something is what you’ll get out. So work hard for what’s important to you. Good things always come from putting in the work,” said Holly.
For at Games, she said to enjoy the experience, take in the opportunity, and live in the moment, including off the diamond.
“It’s such a fun experience to share with not only your softball teammates, but all the Team Toba sports within Manitoba. And then be able to mingle and share that with other provinces and players,” said Holly.
Follow the Softball Journey
“This is a really special group of players and coaches. I’ve coached for a long time and you don’t always come across such a special group that is always supportive of one another [and] plays unselfishly. They just have a lot of passion and heart. I’m very thankful I’ve had this opportunity to coach them,” said Holly.
“We are very competitive and we play with heart and passion, and we’re really looking forward to getting out to Niagara and hopefully bringing Manitoba its first softball gold,” said Holly.