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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
The Sudbury Spring-Summer Sports Solstice
2019-04-10
by Randy Pascal

Leaving the final day of Grapefruit League action far behind, the warmth of a Phillies/Rays matchup in Clearwater but a distant memory, I returned home recently to the six foot pile of snow still lingering on the front lawn.

It took but a second to realize that the grips of winter, in our part of the province, had not yet come close to relinquishing their hold on the boys of summer. Of course, you might want to keep that thought to yourself when discussing the upcoming baseball season with Voyageur U16 and Laurentian University head coach Brodie Jeffery.

Laughing in the face of Mother Nature, he has already reached mid-season level hype and enthusiasm.

Im excited, said Jeffery, now in his second year with the team. I think we will have a bit more success this year. We merged with a team from Barrie. A Southern Ontario native who is rapidly building a reputation in the north, Jeffery is still very much in the early stages of his coaching development, anxious to expand on the core learnings that were revealed as he dealt with the trial and error of working, to this extent, with the teenage crew for the very first time.

I have put much more of a focus on just doing the simple fundamental things that I thought were not as important at U16, said Jeffery. It became evident that them playing catch and running the bases and doing the things that should come naturally, I had overlooked them. Taking care of the little things will take care of the big things.

The seven guys that are returning understand who I am, what kind of system I run, so it will be less teaching and more implementing, and then stepping back and letting them play a little bit more. Last year, it was the constant reminder of some of the basics.

Now we can really dive into the more detailed coaching, while letting them run with the system and the culture that we have created here, added Jeffery. Even the integration of the new component of Barrie-based baseball talent should seem more seamless than the challenges of hitting the ground running one year ago.

I spent a week with the Barrie group in Florida in March, noted Jeffery. I got to know them as people and players down there. Now, when they come together for practices, it should not be new to anybody, everybody should know whats going on, and then we just kind of fine-tune it.

While Jeffery acknowledged that it does not appear yet that he will have a true ace on his pitching staff, as he had in the form of Caleb Cain-Plante last summer (now graduated to U18 Voyageurs), there are many more offsetting positives that he likes about the team.

I think our depth is our best asset, he said. Its a long summer and this year, we have more depth everywhere. We have more flexibility, a lot of versatile guys, which will definitely benefit us. The U16 Voyageurs will split their home game this summer in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario between Sudbury and Barrie.

The 2019 roster features Joshua McBride, Justin Fenn, Reese Irvin, Tucker Belanger, Wyatt Slocum, Yanick Loiselle, Zachary Christie, Anthony Signorile, Braeden Pakkala, C.J. Wendelgass, Dylan Anctil, Dylan Paine, Gavin Roy, Jackson Burke, Jacob Lariviere and Jaxen Lehr.

While the diamonds of the Terry Fox Sports Complex might still be several weeks from welcoming anxious young athletes, there is no denying that we have entered the "Sudbury Sports Solstice", that time of year where the last of the winter sports are wrapping up just as a season of summer sports fun is taking a few trepidatious steps forward.

The Rainbow Elementary Basketball Championships were staged on Wednesday at Lo-Ellen as both the boys and girls Knights claimed a banner for the home court team. Paced by a near-unstoppable performance from Abdallah (Abdi) Asher, the Lo-Ellen lads stopped the Churchill Cougars 53-38.

Joining Asher in the gold medal celebration were Jordan Fergani, Kaeden Ward, Owen Dobson, Jacob Clarke, Nolan Kuhlberg, Kalev Timusk, Adam Chebbi, Cole Brown, Raynor Grant, Lucas Gilpin and Christopher Groulx.

The Lo-Ellen girls had set the tone earlier in the day, focusing on unselfish ball movement, defensive pressure and a deep and talented roster in downing the MacLeod Mustangs 42-15. Syla Swords (15) and Bree Bourget (7) topped the Knights scoring chart, with the team enjoying key contributions right across their lineup of Isabel McKague, Mia Yurich, Siobhan Noble-Poland, Maija Potvin, Olivia Tissot, Madina Jebreen, Alyzee Bisaillon, Sophie Alexander, Mahtressa Paris and Mathilde Fleury.

Still on the basketball front, the Sudbury Jam U12 girls are just the latest local crew to return home with medals in hand, claiming silver in Niagara Falls last weekend. The Jam edged the Markham Mumba 26-22, lost 31-25 to GCBA and beat the St Catharines Rebels 25-23, advancing to the final on a tie-breaker and falling in a heart-breaker, 17-16, to the Peterborough Power.

The provincial runner ups bring together a crew of Olivia Nicholls, Naomi Burrows, Abbygail Lavigne, Lea Lemieux, Lileigh Lavallee, Violet Smith, Sophie Prince, Kiersten Goudreau, Hannah Burton, Rylie Moore, Kaylee Vaillancourt, Makayla Tuttle and Sidney Skrobot.

Championships continue right throughout the month of April, with the entire crew of Northern Chill Volleyball Club teams in Kitchener-Waterloo, at various points, for provincials, while the Sudbury Bantam AA Wolves contest the OHF (Ontario Hockey Federation) playdowns this coming weekend.

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