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Bantam Girls Returning to Cuba

OTTAWA- For the second year in a row a group of Bantam-aged girls will be heading to Cuba for not only a baseball experience, but a cultural and learning experience as well. The trip will run from February 20-27 and will see 26 girls along with the coaching staff of the Women’s National Team head to the baseball hotbed.

“I’m looking at this trip as a chance to see the up and coming talent that we have across this country and use this as a development camp for future editions of the Women’s National Team,” said André Lachance (Ottawa, ON), the Head Coach of the Women’s National Team.

Since the women’s program does not have any formal identification camps, the Cuba trip serves as an opportunity for player’s to be evaluated by National Team coaches.

“At the moment, we don’t really have any camps that help evaluate bantam girls’ players. This event can become an important tool to help with the scouting of new female players,” noted Lachance.

Once arriving in Cuba, players will be evaluated by coaches and divided into Canada Red and Canada White teams. A typical day will see each team practice, play a game against a local Cuban team and also experience something cultural varying from touring historic Old Havana and being entertained by local musicians to visiting an orphanage to do some humanitarian work.

“We want the girls to have an experience outside of just baseball,” explained Lachance. “The goal of the trip is to develop as baseball players but also to grow as individuals and experience something that they would not normally get to do.”

Hannah Martensen (Ottawa, ON) and Shayla Shahsavar (Saskatoon, SK) are two players that are looking forward to returning to Cuba this year after attending last year’s trip.

“My trip to Cuba last year was both a cultural learning experience and one that developed my skills as a baseball player,” said Martensen who has previously travelled to Hong Kong and Australia for baseball events.

Martensen is excited about impressing National Team coaches and ultimately achieving her goal of representing Canada internationally.

“This year I am looking forward to working with the coaches to improve even more as a baseball player, and contribute towards achieving my goal of playing for Team Canada in the 2012 World Cup.”

Shahsavar, a current member of the National Team, points to last year’s trip for helping her get noticed by National Team coaches.

“By going to Cuba it gave me a better chance at making the Women's National Team. Being able to play against the Cuban National Team gave me good insight to see what it would take for me to play on a highly competitive team.”

This year, she is looking forward to further enhancing her baseball skills while also gaining the international baseball experience necessary to compete at a high level.

“I'm looking forward to further develop more skills to ensure my spot on Team Canada and to make sure I maintain a level worthy to represent Canada,” added Shahsavar.  “I hope this trip will give me more experience internationally and in pressure situations.”

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