I arrived at Durham from England in the summer of 2014 expecting big things. I was recruited on a scholarship to play for the Lords baseball team. Bright lights, thousands of fans, and cheerleaders. These are just some of the things that I was expecting for college baseball. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the reality. It may be in America but here in Canada the fan base is between 50 and 100 people, most of them parents, rather than thousands of screaming fans. The lights are more of a hindrance than a help. And, sadly, no cheerleaders. Canadian college baseball didn’t turn out to be as glamorous as I expected, but here’s how it worked out to be a great decision.
I couldn’t wait to get started with my college baseball career; it had always been a dream of mine to play college ball. And although Canada may not have been my first choice, and there were other options, it ended up being the most feasible and safe option on offer. I already knew the coach, Sam Dempster, from my time with the Great Britain National team and although tuition prices were somewhat high, they weren’t too much more than England and cheaper than the States.
The cost and safety weren’t the only factors that made this an excellent experience. I’ve learned to appreciate things like bus trips to upstate New York with a group of 25 sweaty teammates. That may sound less than glamorous but joking around with teammates, telling stories and just travelling on a team bus then playing baseball, well it is awesome.
Another perk is getting kitted out every year in Adidas gear: a black tracksuit top and pants with white trim, a green hoodie with old style font, a gym bag with multiple compartments, home and away jerseys and more, I feel like a pro. In England, my club team has had the same jersey for nearly 10 years!
On top of that, having my own name card above my locker and having Rick Ross-Stay Schemin, as my walk-up song when I come up to pitch and bat adds to the experience. It’s the little things that I have come to appreciate. To me, they are big things, because I am getting a form of recognition for my hard work.
As a matter of fact, some of the fields we play on wouldn’t be considered an average field in the U.S. And some Canadian college infields have horrible dirt, the outfield grass is uneven, and some dugouts can only fit half the team in. Luckily, the Lords’ home field, Kinsmen Memorial Stadium, is one of the best in the league. It has a very homey feel to it, bleachers, infield dirt with cutouts, a new scoreboard, full size dugouts and a 10ft concrete wall covered in ivy. Just like Wrigley field in Chicago… almost.
I would be lying if I said Canada was my first choice destination for college. But while it may not be what I expected, I don’t regret the decision I made over a year ago. Being an international student playing college sports in Canada is rare, but it shows how diverse sports can be. It adds a new dimension. Being a player from a completely different country has made my college experience very interesting. I have learned new things from teammates but they have also learned new things from me. It is nice to compare cultures and experiences.
Playing a higher level of baseball has allowed me to further my skills, and is better than the standard of baseball in England. For that I am grateful. My experiences show that you may not be able to get your first choice in things, but you can always find a way to make something work out to benefit you in the long run.