TEAM CANADA IS
ALWAYS LIKE A FAMILY
PERTH, AUSTRALIA The Senior National Team has a lot of new faces this year. The 2007 IBAF World Cup will be the first international tournament for many of these young players.
This is where the coaches and veteran players come in. Their role is to make this team gel, which is something that will happen during their week long trip to Australia for training and exhibition games prior to heading to Taiwan for the World Cup.
“I want to show the younger guys that they can have fun and be serious at the same time,” says Mike Kusiewicz (Ottawa, ON), former Olympian and veteran of the team. “It is a game and we can't get uptight.”
One of the advantages that Canada has over the other countries in these international competitions is that the team is always like a big family.
“We always do things together (as a team),” says Jeremy Ware (Guelph, ON) another former Olympian and veteran of the squad. “Whether it's off the field by going out for supper or chatting on the bus, it's things like that that we do. We include everybody in everything.”
Mike Saunders (Victoria, BC) is one of those new faces on the team, but he does have some experience with the Senior Team as he was a member of the squad that was in Cuba in for the Olympic qualifier in 2006. He has a recent perspective he can share with those here for the first time.
“When I was in Cuba, (the veterans) did a great job of taking me in and making me feel like one of the guys,” recalls Saunders. “I think it begins with off the field stuff. Taking the guys aside, hanging out in hotel rooms and doing stuff as a team I think is really important. That kind of stuff really helped me out last year and I think that's what will happen again this year.”
Those things started as soon as the team got together at the beginning of the trip. Taylor Green (Courtenay, BC) and Jimmy VanOstrand are two of the new face who have already felt the effects of the camaraderie of this team.
“All the guys who have been here before have just been awesome,” says Green. “They’ve been great to be around and they've been helpful with everything.”
“It’s a really fun group and fun to be involved with,” adds VanOstrand. “The older guys make it pretty easy and make you feel like you’re part of the group.”
The Senior National team began it's practices before kicking off its four game exhibition schedule against the Perth Heat on Wednesday in preparation for the 2007 IBAF World Cup from November 6-18 in Taiwan. Field Manager Terry Puhl (Melville, SK) now has the task of developing this team and seeing what they can do.
“The first couple of days, you get to know them really quickly as far as strength and weaknesses,” says Puhl. “We have a larger, physical team which can limit our options a bit, but I need to find our strengths and go from there.”
The physicality of this team is something that Mark Randall (Edmonton, AB), SNT pitching coach; feels will be a strong advantage for this inexperienced pitching staff.
“Even tough we are a young staff, we have some very good arms with lots of velocity and great stuff,” says Randall. “We have some veteran guys in the bullpen to help our young guys. We have a good mix and what you'll see is our guys pound the strike zone.”
The offence is very talented with many guys posting good numbers in the minors this past season and the team is not looking to change things.
“The biggest thing is that we won't be doing many mechanical adjustments,” says SNT coach Orv Franchuk (Amesbury, AB). “The guys are talented and they're here for a reason. We want them to go up to the plate with a plan and to keep things simple.”
Although this team is you, there is no lack of talent and especially heart. That is something this team has plenty of.
If you want to follow the Senior National Team during its stay in Australia, you can find box scores and live updates at www.wabaseball.com.au/
Manager, Media/Public Relations
BASEBALL CANADA 30 October 2007