OTTAWA- For twenty-six Bantam Girls a February trip to Cuba for some international baseball was a welcome change from the cold Canadian winter. In addition to the great weather and the opportunity to play in one of baseball’s true ‘hotbeds’, the girls had a life experience that will stay with them forever.
“I think the trip to Cuba is as much a cultural experience as it is an international baseball experience,” says Coach and former National Team player Patricia Landry (St-Etienne-des-Gres, QC). “The girls are taken out of their comfort zone of everyday life, and learn to adapt to a new culture and different situations.”
On the field, the group was split into two teams by Head Coach André Lachance (Québec City, QC) and his staff. Canada White and Canada Red competed against the Cuban National team and held their own against more experienced competition.
“It's a good way for the young girls to experience an international competition as well as getting an insight of what it could be like for them to play at the senior level,” added Landry.
After playing and practicing each day, players and staff set-out to experience all that Cuba had to offer through being led on a guided tour of Old Havana, being entertained by local musician and of course relaxing on the beach. On one particular day, players and staff had the opportunity to visit a local orphanage in Havana and interact with kids that are less fortunate.
Nikki Boyd (Surrey, BC), who made the trip to Cuba and competed internationally for the first time, says the visit to the orphanage taught her some life lessons and that she really enjoyed the experience.
“I learnt not to take simple things like a baseball or other things like family for granted. We all had an awesome time playing and laughing with the kids at the orphanage,” she said.
The kids at the orphanage were given t-shirts and other items to keep and spent their time playing and posing for pictures with their new Canadian friends.
“They may be little but they all have big hearts,” continued Boyd.
The learning aspect of the entire trip is something that is not lost upon Boyd, who values the fact that education-wise, she learnt a great deal from the experience.
“I believe that travel is certainly one of the best forms of education and it turns out I came home from Cuba with so much more than expected.”
“One of the best ways to achieve your dream is to travel and being away from home allows you to live in a world of possibilities,” noted Boyd. “An opportunity like this opened my eyes and helped me recognize my one true passion.”