It might not seem like baseball season, but that hasn't stopped Christian Kowalchuk from putting on a free one-day camp for kids in La Ronge, Sask.
The Saskatoon athlete left home to pursue dreams of a baseball career in the United States and was the first Saskatchewan player to play in the College World Series with the Arkansas Razorbacks. He also went to the series as an assistant coach.
"I wanted to promote baseball in areas that maybe haven't had a lot of exposure to it." - Christian Kowalchuk, assistant coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks
Kowalchuk is now an assistant coach for the Razorbacks, but took a break to teach baseball basics to the young players on Monday.
"After a few years of coaching and knowing it's something I really wanted to do, where I came from was important to me," he said on CBC's Afternoon Edition.
"I wanted to promote baseball in areas that maybe haven't had a lot of exposure to it."
The free camp was to get kids involved in the sport and learn some essential skills. Kowalchuk said they did the camp in winter because athletes train all year round, but baseball indoors in northern Saskatchewan does have some challenges.
"You try to simulate as much as you can of what they'd be doing outside, but you might not have as much space," he said.
"You can't play the actual game inside, but you can definitely work on the skills."
He said they had the kids simulating a baseball in their hands and the balance involved in pitching, then repeating the delivery. Kowalchuk said it is skills the kids can practice on their own and will prepare them for the upcoming season.
Kowalchuk added that the camp's goal is also to inspire the kids through encouragement, confidence building, and letting them know he was just like them.
"I came to camps. I did things like this, and I worked on it on my own. Eventually one day it will pay off if you want it enough," he said.