On my first morning officially as a member of the Baseball Canada team, as press officer for the Women’s National Team, I wasn’t completely sure what to do.
I woke up early because I thought I might need to, but as it turns out, I didn’t have to do that. I reset my alarm after my first waking and when I woke up the second time I still didn’t really have any obligations. I started doing some work and then my roommates, Penny and one of the team’s assistant coaches Patricia Landry, nicknamed ‘Patio’, woke up and came into the living room. I might have forgotten to mention early that my bed was a pullout couch in the living room, also making it my bedroom.
We all headed down to the lobby for the continental breakfast, which actually turned out to be a few muffins and some coffee and orange juice. We still had time, so I opted to head to Starbucks. While I was there I picked up some extra food in case anyone else remained unsatisfied after the hotel’s breakfast.
At nine in the morning, the entire team and staff – that includes me! – walked over to the Baseball BC office just up the street, to listen to a presentation by Dr. Saul L. Miller, a sports psychologist. I will spare you the details, though it was interesting and if you want to hear more about it I can fill you in, but I did have an embarrassing moment in front of everyone. I will share that because even though I didn’t particularly enjoy it, everyone else seemed to.
So at a couple different points during the presentation, Dr. Miller threw to the audience. He asked the players questions, like what parts of their games they take the most pride in, what they do best and that kind of thing. Then he started asking what kind of animal the players would liken themselves to on the diamond. There were several good answers thrown out there at first, people going with animals like wolves and cheetahs. That makes sense.
Then he came to me.
I panicked. The first thing I said was, “I’m not a player.” Dr. Miller hesitated and I thought he was going to move on but then he asked me to answer anyway. I started saying, “I really don’t…” and then quickly blurted out honestly the first thing that came to mind, “a dinosaur.”
A dinosaur?! Really? I have no idea why that was the first thing that came to mind. Why would that be on anyone’s mind?
So obviously everyone laughed at me and my worst answer ever, but I do think it took a little pressure off of everyone else. So if I accomplished that, at least I did something. But that bad answer is sure to live on for the rest of the trip. It couldn’t have been much worse.
During the presentation, I got a request for an interview for Hannah Martensen, a right-hander from Ottawa. I wasn’t sure if I knew who she was but I got some help from Patio. When the presentation was done we worked it out with CBC Radio and she had a pre-interview with a woman before she would do a live hit later in the morning. Hannah seemed okay with the way things went and CBC in Ottawa was successful in their interview, so I feel like my first task went well.
After a little bit of time at the hotel, everyone set off for an afternoon practice. I had to head to Nat Bailey Stadium to talk to some of the Vancouver Canadians players later in the day but I had enough time to go to practice as well. I wanted to get some pictures and talk to the team’s special guest, two-time All-Star and former Blue Jay Shawn Green, before I took off.
The team started the practice with an ultimate frisbee game, which looked like a lot of fun and I snapped a few pictures while they were doing that to get warmed up. Then Green arrived, so the team stopped to speak with him and hear what he had to say before breaking into groups. He went with the outfielders, which makes sense since he is a former right fielder. I took more pictures of everyone and tried to get more of Green, so that I could start a Facebook album for the team before long.
Between drills, I got a chance to talk to the veteran big leaguer and it was immediately clear just how surprised he was at the calibre of talent out on the field in the Women’s National Team. I don’t think I should be surprised at how shocked he was, but I was a little bit. He did mention he had worked with softball players before but this was different and he thought it was interesting to see that they don’t do anything differently than any other baseball team.
I soon left for Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium so that I could talk to some of their players while I was in town as well. They have two Canadians on the team, Andrew Case, who was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Tournament 12 last year, a great event providing exposure for draft-eligible players from north of the border, and Mike Reeves, who I mentioned in a previous post had just joined the team after being with the Lansing Lugnuts and the Dunedin Blue Jays earlier in the year.
When I arrived, the Canadians had media credentials waiting for me, and they showed me to the press box, which is on the roof of the stadium and has a great view of the city at the back and, of course, the diamond as the focus in front. I talked to Lucas Scott, the man I had been emailing with about my visit, and he took me down to the field and got Case for me right away.
With the pitcher from Saint John, New Brunswick, we made a quick video for the upcoming Tournament 12, with him introducing himself and welcoming all of the new players to the event. He did a great job, and then just when he thought he was done that, I forced him to answer more questions so that I can write a story on him for the tournament’s program. He was great. We also talked a little bit about his little brother, who has moved to my home province and just started playing with the Ontario Blue Jays. The whole family is really excited about it.
At one point, Reeves came up to me to chat for a minute and the sun was so bright I couldn’t see anything, so he was nice enough to give me his sunglasses. It made the day a whole lot easier and was a much-appreciated gesture.
I didn’t take the opportunity to interview Reeves but when the visiting Boise Hawks arrived, I spoke to their two Canadian players, Justin Marra and Jesse Hodges. They were great and we did a little bit of catching up on other Canucks and I gave them some updates on players I’ve talked to that they wanted to follow a little bit.
When the Hawks took to the field, I managed to catch Vancouver pitcher Matt Smoral on his way off the field for an interview. I talked to him during spring training and he gone up a few steps in the organizational ladder since then and as a first-round pick, I grabbed the chance to write about him. I didn’t get Reeves or Roemon Fields, another Canadians player I wanted to talk to, but I knew I would be coming back on Wednesday so I could do it then.
I went back to the press box before I left to join the women’s team again, but before I could go I received an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Pacific Northwest Scout for the Cleveland Indians, Conor Glassey. I was excited to do it, but wanted to find a way to make sure that people understand that the challenge isn’t about dumping water on your head and passing the buck, but about raising awareness and funds for research of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in order to hopefully someday find a cure.
I arrived late to dinner once again with the team, getting caught up in some Vancouver traffic on my way back to Surrey. So I am pretty sure I am now just known for being late for things and offering stupid answers. Great start for me.
We had a quick team meeting after dinner and I asked everyone to come back in their hats and uniform tops so we could take headshots for the media guide. Penny, Patio and I took the white sheet off my bed and taped it to the top of the wall with medical tape in order to give us a nicer backdrop than the wallpaper at the hotel. I also asked each of the women a few questions to add to the guide, including baseball highlights and what they are currently taking in school or where they are working or what they are working toward.
Then I finally finished writing up the story on Shawn Green, with help from outfield coach Patio, and it can be found here. When I emailed the story out for the first time from my Baseball Canada address, I messed up the formatting, so that was another good start. I eventually got it figured out but I have to change everything I email into HTML format, which is just an added step in the process.
I took a quick five-kilometre run after that and then got back to work before hitting the hay for the night. All in all, a pretty successful full first day with Team Canada, I think.