Alberta Newspaper Group
Brady Van Staalduine was born and raised in Foremost, and when he was old enough to learn to love a sport, his hometown was very much about one in particular.
“It used to be a huge baseball town,” he says. “We were big into it all the way through (each age group), and it kind of fell off when I was younger, like five or six, and playing T-ball.”
It was unfortunate timing for Van Staalduine, as he wasn’t able to play for a local program growing up. However, he was eventually able to be part of the group that resurrected the high school program, and was able to play ball at home as a teenager.
Fast-forward to 2019 and he’s the second-year head coach of that same high school team, with kids once again playing local ball in Foremost at every age group, right down to T-ball.
It’s a position he’s both proud and grateful to have.
“(Baseball) is coming back, and people are trying to make it work,” Van Staalduine says. “And I’ve always loved baseball, so if I can be one of the reasons why it stays in the town, it means a lot.
“It’s also a big hockey town, and when hockey is done, the kids need something to do. Foremost is a pretty small town and there isn’t a whole lot to do sometimes, so if you can get guys out a couple times a week and get them interested in baseball as much as I am, absolutely I’ll do it.”
The resurgence is still somewhat fresh however, so at the high school level, getting the team on the field is still a bit touch-and-go. That means for this season, Van Staalduine needed a pair of Grade 8s and a couple kids from Bow Island just to get to a roster of 13.
And those additions weren’t confirmed until late in the lead-up to the season, so early on there were only seven or eight players at practice — not exactly enough to field a nine-player ball team. “I was extremely happy to find out (we had them),” Van Staalduine says.
The club has already played one game this season, having lost 12-2 in six innings on a visit to Medicine Hat to play Hat High’s JV team. The score wasn’t flattering but the coach says it wasn’t indicative of the team’s effort.
An error in an early inning resulted in several runs tacked on — a snowball effect that often plagues a team after a simple mistake. Down 2-0 early, a dropped fly ball with two outs in the books led to Hat High scoring another five runs and taking a commanding 7-0 lead.
The kid that makes the error gets deflated, and then the whole team sees that and they feed off that,” Van Staalduine says. “You’ve got to try to pick them up in that situation. You can’t be afraid to fail in baseball, and you’ve got to be mentally tough.”
There’s time to work out such kinks, and without having a full roster until recently, the group has only had limited time together on a field thus far. Despite the loss, Van Staalduine sees a lot of positives with this young group.
“You know, for the first game out, not having practised a whole lot, overall I was impressed with what I saw. We are a young rebuilding team — we had six seniors last year and now we only have two, plus we have four or five players who haven’t played high school baseball before.”
The coach sees a season of positives ahead as they get better acquainted as a group.
“This is a good group of kids,” he said. “They work hard and they have a lot of talent there. So if