A Williams Lake Indian Band member was afforded the sporting opportunity of a lifetime last month when she was invited to attend the Toronto Blue Jays National Coaches Clinic.
The all-expense paid scholarship was won by Dez Wycotte, who joined Blue Jays coaching staff, Toronto Blue Jays alumni, National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) instructors and, current members of the Toronto Blue Jays staff — including Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro — for the three-day clinic held in Toronto at Rogers Centre.
“It was so much fun,” Wycotte said. “Our very first day we broke out into eight smaller groups and did NCCP sessions and after that we broke out into two main groups.”
From there, Wycotte said they worked on continuous drills, and ways to deliver the sport to youth including throwing, hitting and base-running drills.
“We were running and being physical for those three days,” she said.
Last summer, from Aug. 8-12, Wycotte ran a rookie league at Sugar Cane.
“After that, I ran weekly practices with the kids and eventually had enough players for two small teams, so we had about 15 youth,” she said.
Her goal, ultimately, is to deliver the sport of slo-pitch to youth in all of the surrounding reserves in the region.
“The scholarship I received was through Right to Play,” Wycotte said. “It’s an international organization that I’m partnered with, with community mentors in 88 communities all over Canada. Each community mentor runs a program with Aboriginal youth, so I picked the rookie league camp.”
Once the snow clears and the field is ready for play, Wycotte said she hopes to get straight back to weekly practices.
“We are going to be putting in for upgrading our field that we have at Sugar Cane,” she said. “We’re able to use it as is now but we want to upgrade it so it’s a really nice field people will recognize and want to use to bring more positivity and acknowledgement of what Sugar Cane has to offer.”
Wycotte said her personal highlight of the trip was getting the opportunity to tour the Blue Jays’ private clubhouse, while her highlight in training was listening to Blue Jays’ alumni Devon White speak.
“He spoke about the importance of outfielding, and the importance of knowing where your team members are, and the importance of being a team consisting of multiple players, not just a single person,” she said.
Wycotte added any youth interested in playing can contact the Williams Lake Indian Band office and be directed to her extension.
“We’ll have sign-up forms, there’s no fee, it’s completely free,” she said.
“Youth are more than welcome to show up.”