MIAMI, OK. — There’s no question that hockey is by far Canada’s most popular sport. But, there’s a growing number of Canadian athletes who prefer to be on the baseball field instead of on the ice.
“The discovery of good, quality talent up there over the years has, especially their training has gotten a lot better up there,” said NEO A&M head baseball coach Roger Ward. “Their opportunities have gotten a lot better and there’s just a lot of Canadian kids now coming down to the United States across the United States to play baseball.”
Edouard Savoie is one of six Canadian players on the NEO A&M baseball team. So, what brought him to Miami, Oklahoma, fourteen hundred miles away from his hometown in Saint Eustache, Quebec Canada?
“We had a bunch of guys from Quebec actually going to the states for the past couple years,” said Savoie. “We had a good bunch of them, so I knew that was like the path I needed to follow.”
In Canada, hockey rules the sports world, but not everyone is meant to lace up a pair of skates.
“I was just better at baseball than hockey, honestly,” said freshman centerfielder Mathieu Vallée. “In high school they make you choose one sport, so I just went with baseball.”
Opportunities to play competitive baseball are far and few between in Canada. That’s what drove sophomore shortstop Tyler Small to pack his bags and head south.
“You get more opportunities playing in the states than back home,” said Small. “So, I wanted to pursue my career, so I knew playing in the states would help me more than playing at home.”
While they may be far from home, the feeling they get when stepping out on the field is worth it.
“Of course, it was scary,” said freshman third baseman Emile Boies. “But, I mean, when you play baseball, it brings everybody together, so I think that helped a lot.”
“Just the energy on the field and just us going out to compete and just being with all the guys,” added freshman catcher Dionysius Chialtas when asked about his favorite part of playing baseball in the United States.
Ward said he’s always recruited players from Canada. In addition to their talent, he says they also bring a great deal of enthusiasm and appreciation for the opportunity to play baseball in the U.S.
“They know the opportunity that they have to come down here and play is unique and not all of them get it,” said Ward. “They respect it and usually take advantage of it. They definitely appreciate it.”
While they may come from a different country and even speak a different language, their passion for baseball is the same.