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Players get growth and cultural experience
For Bo Boxall, the Latin American Baseball Classic in the Dominican Republic is about more than just the game.
Boxall, coach of the under-18 team for the Okanagan Valley’s Wave International Baseball Academy, said the goal of going to the tournament is to expose players to the culture and competition that can be found in vibrant baseball communities such as in the Dominican Republic.
It’s the first time Canada has been invited to participate. Along with Canada, U.S., St. Croix, British Virgin Islands and Venezuela will field teams at the 32-year-old world-class international youth event.
“Ultimately, we would like to have athletes understand that baseball is a game that can bring people together from around the globe in the name of sport,” said Boxall. “We are currently still recruiting more athletes that will help us put together a competitive team on the field.”
It is the goal of the LABC to help the players journey to college and enhance their understanding about the game and the way it is played around the globe.
Equally important, said Boxall, is the players’ ability to help represent the Okanagan off the field.
“We want athletes that exemplify great character. This experience is about more than winning on the field,” he said.
The Wave International Baseball Academy had its final camp at Carmi Field on April 5 and Boxall said it went well. They were able to see new players in all of the age divisions (10 to 18) as it attracted talent from the Okanagan, Vancouver area and Alberta.
“Our goal with any one of our practices is that players can leave with at least one or two new pieces of information that can make them better players in the long run,” said Boxall.
Among the players at the camp was Penticton’s Taylor Kanke, who plays for the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers.
“It’s been pretty insightful,” said Kanke. “I have learned a lot of stuff here about pitching and hitting.”
Kanke also took advantage learning from former Chicago White Sox pitcher Jim Parque to increase his velocity on the mound. The coaching Kanke was exposed to was also different.
“The coaching I’m used to is team (with the Tigers),” he said. “This is more specialized.”
In terms of finalizing a team, Boxall said they are still looking at their needs, but hope to name more players. There is no set date on roster announcements and they will be watching players with their home clubs.