For the fourth time in six years, Everest baseball coach, Chris Begg, has been invited as a guest coach for Canada’s junior national team. From May 18-28, 2016, the team will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to play affiliates from Major League organizations.
Begg’s primary responsibility will be working with the pitching staff, but as was the case last year, may be asked to coach first base, as well.
“Working with the young pitchers at this level is incredibly gratifying,” said Begg. “Each player brings a certain amount of talent to the program. It’s our job as coaches to refine their skills and to help them maximize their potential. Some of these players are on the fringe of embarking on a long Major League career and just need to hone their craft a little bit.”
Last year’s pitching staff helped lead the team to an impressive 8-4 record against the tough Dominican competition. When asked about the strength of the team, there were a few key factors, according to Begg. “The top of our lineup set the table for our big bats to drive in runs, which gave us a lot of early leads. After that, the pitchers were able to do their job by throwing strikes and commanding the strike zone. We were able to keep our pitchers deep into games and stick to our plan in regard to splitting up the innings, a key factor when playing twelve games in eight days.”
The 2015 team being referenced had two players (Josh Naylor, 12th overall, and Mike Soroka, 28th overall) selected in the first round of the Major League First Year Player Draft, while Demi Orimoloye and Miles Gordon were selected in the 4th and 5th rounds, respectively. All together, ten players from the team were selected by Major League teams, and thirty Canadians were chosen in total, the most ever for the country.
This year’s team will see mostly new faces for Begg, which is normal for the program. “Each time I’ve joined the team, there’s a period where I take in as much information from the other coaches as possible to learn about the players, and then I’ll make some of my own assessments.”
The changes in coaches on a regular basis can also be difficult for the players. “I remember as a pitcher having several coaches who all were trying to get me to do different things,” said Begg. “When I join Team Canada as a coach, I make sure that the first thing each player understands is that I’m not here to change them. I’m simply here to continue helping them with things that they have been working on with their other pitching coaches, namely Chris Reitsma and Mike Johnson, both of whom have significant professional and international experience as well.”
And what about leaving the school behind in May for ten days? Begg concludes, “I am very grateful to Everest Academy and all of the staff that support my inclusion on this trip. It places more strain on the teachers to pick up the pieces that I leave behind, but just like Team Canada, we’re a great team who always have each other’s back.”