OTTAWA - Twenty-seven athletes will escape the cold and head south to Cuba this weekend for the tenth annual Girls Baseball Development Camp, combining a baseball and cultural experience that is second to none.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this camp for ten years, but it’s an amazing experience for all involved,” said Women’s National Team General Manager André Lachance. “We’ve had over 200 athletes go on this trip over the past ten years so the experience is worthwhile.”
Through facing the Cuban National Team at international competitions, Lachance approached Cuban baseball officials with the idea of a female baseball development camp to the baseball island hotbed and the trip has become a staple in the Women’s National Team program ever since.
“The trip provides our athletes the chance to play baseball outdoors against quality competition at a time where they’re normally training indoors and waiting for the season to start,” explained Lachance. “(The camp) also provides a glimpse into international baseball and what competing on the national team might be like at the next level.”
Dozens of former camp attendees have gone on to make the Women’s National Team and the experience has benefitted these players both on and off the baseball field.
“Part of the international baseball experience is not only on the field but off the field as well,” said Lachance. “Moving out of your comfort zone and adjusting to life in a different country can be a major factor in personal and team success at the events we go to. This camp provides some of the elements, be it food, weather or cultural that the athletes will need to adapt to.”
Baseball isn’t the only aspect of the trip that the athletes will be experiencing as the schedule also includes educational components that will see attendees learn about Cuban culture and where their on-field opponents come from.
“When we started this trip our goal was to make it more than just a baseball experience,” explained Lachance. “Our athletes learn about Cuban culture and history, visit a Cuban orphanage and have the opportunity to learn about the country that they are visiting.”
This year’s trip will see athletes attending from eight different provinces including New Brunswick for the first time ever.
“Our sport is growing so it’s great to see interest from across the country,” added Lachance. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from athletes and families alike over the years so hopefully we can continue to provide this trip for many years down the road.”
2019 Cuba Girls Development Camp Participants: