It's hard to believe that it has been only slightly more than three years since Brodie Jeffery first arrived in Sudbury.
The level to which the 27 year-old native of Whitby and first ever coach of the Laurentian Voyageurs baseball team has immersed himself into the summer sport has been impressive.
Still, all good things must eventually come to an end.
For Jeffery and fiancee/local media personality Molly Frommer, this means a return closer to home, as well as a new career, for the former.
Preparing to begin his training with the Ontario Provincial Police early in the new year, Jeffery leaves northern Ontario with a wealth of life experience that is sure to prove handy in tackling one of the more challenging jobs around.
"When I arrived, in August 2017, I was single and had a lot of extra time on my hands," said Jeffery, who quickly teamed up with Jean-Gilles Larocque, founder of The Baseball Academy.
"I wanted to help out as much as possible," added Jeffery. "In three years, I guess I did get involved pretty heavily."
Though baseball was in his blood, at the time, the same could not be said for his knowledge of the nickel city. Jeffery could call upon recollections of just one trip north to attend the Big Nickel Hockey Tournament as a peewee.
Even that visit was cut short as his father decided a late Saturday night ride home following the elimination of the team was certainly a reasonable decision, as long as the car was loaded with boston cream donuts.
Returning a decade later, working with athlete upon athlete, with team upon team, Jeffery was embraced into the community.
"I won't ever forget the people I have met - I enjoy a better understanding of the northern Ontario lifestyle," he said. "It's just something that I never imagined being the way that it is - in a positive way, obviously."
"I came up here knowing nobody and I'm leaving with a lot of good, close friends who helped take care of Molly and I through the past couple of years. All of those people helped me to develop as a person, taught me a lot about myself."
Yes, there is that small matter of an engagement to a newfound love that played a pivotal role in this entire story.
Throughout his youth, Jeffery was fixated on a career in baseball, ideally as a coach of a college team south of the border. Through positions with schools in Alabama and Tennessee, he hoped to secure a post upon which he could build.
Then he met J-G (Larocque).
"I realized that it was going to take years to go this route through the States," said Jeffery. "I took the position (in Sudbury) with high expectations, thinking that it could be a career, eventually."
And perhaps, were he still single, there might be the patience to follow that path.
But if the pandemic proved anything to the young couple, it was that a sense of stability was a wonderful thing.
"Molly is so supportive and wants me to succeed with everything, but we agreed that it was tough for me not being at family events, missing all of these things," said Jeffery.
"With the pandemic, we had time to breathe and kind of get a feel for where we saw ourselves as a team, together. It was only when everything got cancelled that we realized just how much we loved that lifestyle more than me travelling all of the time and her dealing with everything by herself, really not knowing that many people here."
While a career that offered more stability was a given, Jeffery also had to factor in exactly how much time he could commit to reaching the eventual end goal, with a marriage and such to plan in the not-too-distant future.
Teaching would require a return to post-secondary education. Going the route of the military, a profession that truly appealed to Jeffery, might well carry a lengthy deployment away from home.
So began the research into policing. The discipline, the community involvement, being a role model all seemed to flow naturally from the roles he had filled on the baseball diamond.
"As a baseball coach, you have a responsibility to try and be a positive influence in the lives of these kids," he said. "There are so many life skills that will take your players so much further than their baseball skills."
"It's been a very meticulous process, with all of the different stages to this point. I leaned upon my background in sports a lot throughout the process. When I was in school (in the States), I would be up at 5:00 a.m., doing workouts at 6:00, then going to class."
"After school, it was off to baseball, then dinner and the study hall. It's a very regimented disciplined lifetsyle."
And it was all that he wanted to do, when he first arrived in Sudbury, before meeting his true love, before life got in the way.
Not that Jeffery has completely abandoned baseball, as he prepares to start class at the OPP College in Aylmer (Ontario) on January 5th.
"I am going to slowly integrate it (baseball) back in, but I don't see myself taking on as many roles as I have in the past three years - or roles that are as big."
"It's not time to move on - I still want to be part of baseball - but it is time to focus on my family, my career."
And it's time to take the next step, following a very special three years in Sudbury.