By Cole Parkinson
With the COVID-19 pandemic shaking up the sports world from the pros all the way down to school sports, players have had to adapt to a different mindset and season this fall.
As the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets were able to hit the diamond this fall for several games against the Prairie Baseball Academy, it was still a long-shot from what a typical fall season holds.
Despite this, Middle Sackville, N.S., pitcher Tyler Boudreau alongside his teammates have no complaints with how the fall season turned out.
“There have been a few things that are different, of course, just like the rest of the world. We have safety protocols in place and we have played less games. Our day to day interactions are limited and our living situation is also different. It’s not bad it’s just that we need to be aware at all times of how we keep each other safe. We are part of this town from different parts of Canada and that means we have a responsibility to keep our team and Vauxhall safe. To be here is a privilege and every one of us wants to do everything we can to stay safe and have a good year,” explained Boudreau.
While travelling in Canada is still possible, the prospect of entering any airport still presents risks. Additionally, coming to a community across the province can be daunting at the best of times but during a pandemic, it could certainly deter players from coming back to VAB.
Boudreau, already being familiar with the area after playing for the team the last several years, had zero qualms about heading west to further his Jets career especially since last season was cut shorter than anyone wanted.
“The school and the academy have made our safety, and the safety of all students and town the first priority. For some of us flying here and coming from further away than others was a bit unsettling but from the minute we got here and each day after we look out for each other. We have rules and expectations that we need to follow. We are all OK with that. Every member of this team is doing their part. I love my Vauxhall family. I look forward to being here, playing baseball and going to school. I was heartbroken when we had to leave last year in March. I was excited to come back and get started even though I knew it would be different.”
Along with his senior Jets teammates, Boudreau knew coming back would be big for his development as both a player and as a student.
Even with the fact they played fewer games last spring and their season was cutback from normal this fall, the pressure to perform to impress any scouts was never top of mind for the Jets pitcher.
“It helps that everyone is in the same boat right now. For me personally, it’s about sticking to my plan and if there is a scout out there that thinks I’m worth a second look then I believe it will happen. There is nothing I would love more than to have a scout come to me and show interest. It would be a dream come true. I also have to realize that may not happen.”
The good news for Boudreau is scouts did show plenty of interest this fall as he ended up committing to Midland College in Midland, Texas.
“I will stick to my plan and work hard and good things will happen. So far my plan has worked. I’m going to the best baseball academy in Canada, the best high school, I’ve been to T12 (Tournament 12 in Toronto), I’ve played on my provincial team and I’m going to the U.S. next year to pursue my baseball and education interests. I have to say I’m pretty lucky so far. Let’s hope that keeps rolling,” added Boudreau.
While he has taken the next steps to continue his career, he realizes many players on this Jets team are still grind- ing and trying to impress scouts, and he’s more than willing to help any players who may be struggling with their situations during this less than ideal time.
“It’s tough to stay positive when I know what it could be. But being here and doing what we love has to be our focus. Every player is here because they are special ballplayers and special people. We focus on that. It would be easy to complain, I have to admit, I can do my share of complaining but if we focus on positive things and what we can do in these crazy times then it will all work out.”
While no final determinations have been made about what the 2021 spring schedule will look like, Boudreau and his teammates are hoping United States travel is in the cards.
The chance to win big games as a group and the ability to spend time together is something Boudreau looks back on fondly during his time as a Jet and he knows Jets head coach Les McTavish is doing all he can to line up games.
“You have to remember that my first trip to Vegas as a rookie we won it all. We also won the tournament in Missoula that year and had a killer record overall. It was a great year for great experiences. I remember pretty much every inning of those tournaments. I remember what I learned on the mound as a rookie and from the senior pictures. I had a lot of work to do after my first year, I still do. What I also remember are the trips for pizza and shopping for robes and going to the pool, just to name a few. One thing about Vauxhall is that we are a family. We are in a unique situation. We live together, we go to school together, we play ball together, we mess up together and we pull each other up together. We may not be able to have those travel experiences this year but that’s ok because our unique lives give us the opportunity to bond each day,” he said.
“It’s one of the best things about Vauxhall baseball. You have 21 brothers for life, and an additional baseball mom and dad with Jimmy and Lisa (Vulcano, residence managers) and baseball siblings in Marky and Monica. Extended family with our coaches, our billet families and everyone that supports our program. I know that COVID will probably mess up our travel this spring but I know that we will all get as much baseball in as we need to all be successful. Either that or Coach Mac will die trying.”