The ball field has become a second home for Brenden and his family – spending an enormous amount of time practicing, playing, and at tournaments in preparation for the Canada Games.
NEWPORT CORNER, N.S. - With his long, red hair pulled behind a baseball cap and piercing blue eyes taking in the ball field around him, 17-year-old Brenden Walker is perhaps a bit timid or shy about his accomplishments, as many young athletes are.
He may not sure what to say or how to respond to some questions, but it’s easy to tell the Newport Corner teen loves the sport and is proud of how far he’s come.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time put into it at the field, and I think it’s starting to pay off,” Walker says, somewhat soft-spoken.
Walker started with the sport as a young child, since he was five or six years old. His favourite position? Anywhere in the infield.
“I just love the sport, I just enjoy playing it and being around the field,” he said. “Just everything about it – being with the team, the competitiveness.”
When Walker is in a game, he’s constantly going through the numbers: how many outs there are, how many players are on base, evaluating and calculating the next step.
“When you’re out on the field, with your team, playing to win, it just all comes together and… I don’t know.”
Walker has been working hard all summer, making the Nova Scotia team for the Canada Games for the first time.
On top of that, he’s also playing for the Nova Scotia U18 Team in PEI for the U18 Nationals and has been invited to attend the 30-man tryout camp the U19 Junior National team.
The U19 team, he says, is a stepping-stone to the National Men’s Team, which compete at the World Championships.
“I’ve played against a lot of the guys who are going, and there are a lot of good ball players going,” he said. “It’ll be tough, but it’ll also be a good experience.”
Walker has already won provincial championships, a silver medal from the Eastern Canadian Championships, and has been to national tournaments in the past. He’s now got his eye on the Canada Games prize.
“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m also very excited just to go and play and hopefully bring back a medal for our province,” he said.
Prior to the summer, Walker has been hard at work, training at the gym and practising constantly.
“As soon as we could get on the field, we’ve been on the field five times a week,” he said. “It does take up a lot of time, when you have to go to the field or go away to a tournament, but it’s worth it.”
Why is it worth it?
“Just representing team Nova Scotia.”
Shane Rogers, Brenden’s stepfather and head coach, said the St. Croix ball field has been like a second home for his family over the years.
“It’s an unbelievable proudness, Brenden has done all of this on his own,” Rogers said. “He fell in love with the sport, which made it very easy to coach and teach. He’s taken this commitment all on his own. Being able to play with teams and players from all over Canada is something I’m sure he’ll never forget.”
This will be Walker’s second time trying out for the U19 team.
“Brenden tried for the U19 team last year but didn’t quite make it; however, this year we got the call to come to the 30-man tryout camp,” he said. “Next summer, the U19 Worlds is in Canada, in Saskatchewan, and it’ll be a very proud moment if he makes that team.”
No matter what, Rogers says he’ll be proud of how far Brenden has pushed himself.
“Brenden’s work ethic is what makes him stand out,” he said. “He will take the ball off the chest to make the play and never gives up on the ball. He’s constantly learning and wanting to get to get better, and thinks about that himself, and for me, that’s an important life lesson.”
After working so hard to get to this point, Rogers said, Walker needs to focus on enjoying himself instead of labouring on errors and mistakes.
“We’re just so proud of him and we’re enjoying the ride,” he said.
Team Nova Scotia plays in the round robin tournament from July 29–Aug. 4, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.