Girls play baseball more and more, and Baseball Quebec wants this growth to continue in the coming years.
In recent months, the Quebec Women’s Baseball League has been created to allow young girls to play among themselves, without having to join the men’s leagues.
In 2018, we reached a peak with more than a hundred teams and almost 3,500 players.
While the pandemic slowed the sport’s progress in 2020, it could also increase it in the coming years.
Baseball Quebec is trying to attract new fans by knocking on the doors of winter sports teams to invite them to try baseball.
The new female development and leadership coordinator in the federation, Vanessa Riopel, believes that young athletes look forward to meeting their teammates in the winter.
“With COVID, many have not been able to practice their winter sport, whether it is hockey or ringette, she says. I know there are a number of ringett teams who wanted to come and have fun as a team, because they could not compete this winter. They take to the field as a team to try a new sport.“
100% women’s leagues
A bit like hockey several years ago, young girls integrated into baseball teams for men without always finding their account.
In very young people it works. It becomes more complicated for older children when the difference in physical strength increases between boys and girls.
“We see it in physical education courses in primary school, girls often throw harder than boys, says Vanessa Riopel. They develop earlier, but at some point they are caught.“
To facilitate the development of young athletes, the establishment of this league was announced in February.
This league offers players in Quebec, from the youngest to the senior level, to play in 100% female teams, against 100% female teams.
Vanessa Riopel knows that again this summer there will probably be young girls who have to play with the boys because there are not enough of them in their region, or because they want to choose men’s teams due to the level of play.
“You can not get up overnight and say, “Girls play with girls and boys play with boys.” It is a change that will happen gradually», She mentions.
It sees the day when the question will no longer appear, as in football. “When you go to sign up for football, we know that if you’re a girl, you’re playing women’s soccer. And if you’re a guy, you play men’s soccer.“
“Baseball Quebec provides so many benefits and resources to women’s baseball. The mentality is changing and it is promising.“
Women’s team and management
Bringing young girls together in their own teams and leagues will allow them to develop much better not only athletically but also mentally. They can more easily take up space.
“The girls will develop a component that they develop less when playing with boys, leadership. They will be able to lead a team and develop something other than athletics.», Underlines Vanessa Riopel.
The former Team Canada pitcher knows what she’s talking about, having always played for the men before ending up on provincial and national teams.
“They accept us and they are generous in accepting women in their boy gang, but that is not where you should come and lead when you are the only girl.“
“Me, it is by playing other sports with girls, such as flag football and basketball, that I have managed to develop this aspect (leadership).“
When Vanessa Riopel talks about baseball for women, she goes much further than fastballs or home runs. She constantly returns to the training side of her sport.
“Baseball is a bad sport. It’s a sport where you have to get up. Your error is written on the board. Everyone saw the bullet that went between your legs. You throw yourself in the butter, you drop the ball, you make a bad throw. It is important to get together after all this and maybe play the winning game.“
The best with the best
If the Women’s Baseball League wants to gather as many teams as possible, the best athletes will be grouped into Quebec teams.
The best players 17 years and older can find themselves in a formula that looks like the Academy of Baseball of Canada (ABC) or even an autumn camp with professional top prospects.
The 28 selected players were divided into two teams (blue and white) that will compete each week, in addition to playing matches against the teams in the Lanaudière midget league.
The matches between the Blues and the Blanches will not always be traditional baseball matches. For example, you can start all rounds with a runner on second base, for example in overtime games in the major leagues.
One of the goals is to develop players who will eventually join the national team for major competitions, such as the Pan American Games, where Canada won silver in Toronto in 2015.
During 16 training will be based in the Saint-Hyacinthe region. Daniel Brodeur has led this team since 2017 and is especially supported by two former players from Quebec and Canadian teams, Isabella Denis and Anne-Sophie Lavallée.
Every weekend, the team jumps on the field for a morning practice and an afternoon game. When the school year is over, we add weekday matches against teams from the region.