Nfld. & Labrador

'They all shut up': Jaida Lee talks about pitching for N.L.'s men's baseball team at Canada Games

An up-and-coming baseball superstar from St. John's is boasting two honours as she heads into the upcoming Canada Games in Niagara, Ont. — carrying the flag and being the first female to pitch for a men's team.

16-year-old Jaida Lee has been turning heads as one of the province's top pitchers

Sixteen-year-old Jaida Lee will be the flag-bearer for Newfoundland and Labrador at the upcoming Canada Games. (Submitted by Amanda Lee)

An up and coming baseball superstar from St. John's is boasting two honours as she heads into the upcoming Canada Games in Niagara, Ont. — she's carrying Newfoundland and Labrador's flag into the opening ceremonies and she's the first female to play on a men's team at the event. 

Jaida Lee, 16, is turning into a household name around baseball circles across the province and she's no stranger to mixing it up in boys' baseball divisions during her playing career so far.

In 2021 she pitched the only win for the Newfoundland and Labrador U-17 boys' baseball team at an Atlantic tournament in Dartmouth, N.S. She was the first female to claim that honour. 

Now she's preparing for the national stage. 

"I feel like when you're under pressure it matters more. I'm more focused and zoned in so I just perform better," Lee told CBC News on Friday. 

"It's exciting. It feels good."

Lee attributes her success so far to simply playing a lot of baseball. Each summer to this point she played with multiple girls' and boys' teams. 

"Most people only get around 20 games but growing up I got like 80 every summer," she said. 

"It helps with development overall. On top of that [you get] a lot more trips."

Down the line, Lee is hoping to break into the national Canadian baseball program — which she's already experienced from playing with the prospect team — and is looking ahead to playing university ball. 

Carrying the flag, breaking barriers

Lee couldn't hold back her smile when asked about the honour of being named the province's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies on Aug. 6. 

"I was definitely excited. It's definitely an honour," she said.

What's more, other young girls from across the country are contacting Lee, seeing her as someone breaking down barriers for women in the sport.

Jaida Lee will pitch for the men's team, becoming the first female in the history of the event to do so. (Submitted by Amanda Lee)

"I've had some younger girls from around Canada message me, especially since the flag-bearer thing came out, saying they bought tickets to come watch," she said. 

"I hope that they see that it can happen if they strive to be better and continue pushing and training."

At home she doesn't get a second glance from players, coaches or parents when she suits up against boys' teams, she said, but during trips to other provinces it's something that still happens.

"There's definitely a few parents who are like, 'Is that a girl?' Mainly in the field you don't hear anything, but when I'm pitching you'll hear in the dugout 'is that a girl?' or whatever," she said. 

"But when I actually throw the ball — I don't know if I can say 'shut up' — they all shut up." 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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