Team North takes shape on the diamond
by Randy Pascal
Quality over quantity. That must have been the mantra that baseball coach Jean-Gilles Larocque clung to all weekend long.
Disapointed with the lack of turnout from the likes of Sault Ste Marie, North Bay and Timmins, Larocque begins a second term at the head of the Team
North baseball crew that will compete at the Ontario Summer Games, extremely satisfied with the core talent that emerged from both Thunder Bay
That was the synopsis, in a nutshell, of the long weekend tryouts that took place at the Terry Fox Sports Complex. A total of 16 young baseball
prospects and a pair of underage additions were included on the Northern Ontario roster, overcoming geographic challenges unlike those anywhere else in
With a resume that includes experience both as a player and coach at the NCAA level, Larocque wasted little time making an impression on his new
troops. "It's an honour to play for this coaching staff," said Sudbury infielder Ethan Jodouin.
"These guys are very knowledgeable. And the practice sessions are a lot more intense," he added. "When you put 25 of the best players in Northern
Ontario together, it's always going to be more competitive."
A first year bantam and grade 8 student at St Benedict Elementary, Jodouin was thrilled with the high-paced workouts, looking to develop both a physical
and mental maturity that will help in years to come.
And it wasn't just the locals who walked away impressed. "I can tell already that I'm going to learn a lot," said Thunder Bay catcher Kai Knudsen.
It likely won't hurt that the grade 9 student at Hammarskjold High School follows directly in the footsteps, positionally, of the coach who will
help mentor him this summer.
"I like the warm-up we did," Knudsen said. "Jean-Gilles was really good about letting us know how he works it, how he approaches it. It seemed better
for me - my arm felt really good this weekend."
Like many of the dozen of so Thunder Bay natives who made the lengthy trek to Sudbury to attend the OSG tryouts, Knudsen has benefitted from playing in
the northwestern Ontario baseball system that often finds their best competition south of the border.
And much like coach Larocque in the Nickel City, the Lakehead area is also blessed with some very solid baseball men in their midst. "I had a really
good coach in minor baseball - Mark Beazley - and he really helped me with getting the fundamentals down pat," Knudsen said.
"And I've attended a couple of camps in Duluth." In addition to the 16 players who will compete, in August, in Toronto, local Peewees Tyrus Cuculick
and Bryson McLoughlin have also been invited to practice and train with the team, accompanying the group to a tournament in Cooperstown (NY) in
The players selected to form Team North which will compete at the 2012 Ontario Summer Games are as follows:
Ashton Roy (Garson)
Ryan Faubert (Azilda)
Joey Moher (Valley East)
Ethan Jodouin (Sudbury)
Phil Miller (Azilda)
Josh Clark (Elliot Lake)
Sebastien Stefankow (Sudbury)
Tommy Munn (Thunder Bay)
Eric Beaulieu (Thunder Bay)
Kai Knudsen (Thunder Bay)
Bryce Jorgensen (Thunder Bay)
Jacob Tomeck (Thunder Bay)
D.J. Depiero (Thunder Bay)
Nicholas Hillman (Valley East)
Max Rydholm (Thunder Bay)
Brody McCaffrey (Valley East)