Sandy Lake First Nation kids get chance to play up their baseball skills

Sandy Lake First Nation youth are up to bat this week at a baseball camp in the community to learn some skills of the game. 

Coaches to fly in for 3-day sports camp

Youth in Sandy Lake playing baseball in the community. (Submitted by Peter Meekis)

Sandy Lake First Nation youth are up to bat this week at a baseball camp in the community to learn some skills of the game. 

Gary Mamagesic, who helps organize baseball in the community about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., said the community is excited about the coaches coming up, and so far about 50 participants have signed up to play.

"They're going to give us some really good pointers and we're going to identify our little superstars when we're done. We just love to build champions," he said. 

He said the kids love having that sense of camaraderie with other teammates and having something other to do than sit around inside since COVID-19. 

"If we can showcase all these fun activities to them, I'm sure they're going to be interested. Every community should have some sort of organization to inspire the children to move forward," said Mamagesic. 

Kevin McCallum coaches a baseball team in Thunder Bay, Ont. He has coached local little league and travel teams for over 15 years. (Submitted by Kevin McCallum)

The camp will run from July 25-27 and is funded by the Mikinakoos Children's Fund, a Thunder Bay-based charity, with a grant from the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities through the department of Canadian Heritage. The camp plan includes training, games, and a cookout to bring everyone together.

Kevin McCallum, general manager with the Kam River Fighting Walleye, a Junior A Hockey club based in Thunder Bay, played baseball for the Thunder Bay Jr. Jacks and for several teams in the U.S.

He said the skills camp is "an opportunity to learn the game, the fundamentals, even if if's just for the future."

"If we give them the opportunity to hone their skills a little bit, we're excited about that."

Members of one of the Sandy Lake baseball teams from summer 2021. (Submitted by Peter Meekis)

Colin Sobey, a member of the Red Rock Indian Band, will also be helping coach the kids. 

"For me to go back up there and give them the opportunity to see this and help them out and left them have fun for a few days, then maybe down the road maybe one of them will want to do the same thing and help out the community," he said.

He said he hopes the kids will be motivated to teach others in the community once they have an established skill set.

"The sky's the limit on what we can do," said Mamagesic. 

"Most importantly, they're having fun. That's our reward, is seeing the smile on their faces, and willingness to try." 


Renée Lilley

Reporter, CBC Indigenous

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous based in Winnipeg. She is a recipient of the CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship for 2022 and is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported for radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie, Man. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.