A long way from little league

Cody Cole has clawed his way through the various layers of baseball and now has a shot at the big league.

Cody Cole pitches at a Jacks game in the team’s last season.

It’s been a long strange trail Cody Cole has blazed through Alberta and B.C., but the dedication through rambling may be paying off with Toronto, and its avian team,  now on his itinerary.

The right handed pitcher grew up playing baseball in Quesnel, starting in the minor leagues before working his way up to the Jacks.

Cole, now 19, started playing ball before he started school. It took him four years to figure out where he should be on the diamond.

“I started pitching when I was 8 because I liked to be in control of the game,” Cole said.

He has stuck with it ever since.

After eight years playing with little league teams, Cole graduated to the Jacks, for whom he played two seasons.

The team, during his stint with them, made the arduous move from the lowest team to the very top in his second year, Cole said.

“Cody played for me at 16 in an 18 and over league and still stood out as a great player,” his erstwhile coach, Randy Enns said of him.

“He would pitch and catch and do whatever the team needed him to do. I immediately took a shine to Cody and tried to mentor him as best I could He would meet me at the diamond early and he would prep the field, even mowing the field for a truer hop on grounders.”

Last summer, however, the Jacks folded their hand, leaving Cole searching outside his hometown to continue his passion.

Cole, 18 years old at the time, settled on Lethbridge after their coach invited him to come play for the Lethbridge Giants, a Big League division team in the Alberta Little league.

He spent last summer in Lethbridge, honing his skill on the mound.

“The season taught me to keep my composure on the mound and not let little things get in my head,” Cole said.

Cole enjoyed his time on the Giants, where he was the number one pitcher and played left field, saying they were great coaches and a great team.

The team made provincials where Cole was courted by a new coach.

Ray Chadwick, the coach for the TRU WolfPack, approached him there and asked him if he would like to move to Kamloops to study and train.

Seeing a way forward, Cole agreed and applied for school at TRU.

With his acceptance into the Ba.Sc. program with a major in Kinesthesiology, Coles’ focus changed from pure sport to academics.

“Here, you’re about 80 per cent student and 20 per cent player,” Cole said.

That didn’t lower his drive to play baseball though.

The baseball, academics and the work required to keep himself fed, clothed and housed makes Cole a very busy man.

The mix includes 30 hours of work a week, six hours of school a day with two hours of training a day to fit in as well.

“I leave the house at 5:30 a.m. and don’t usually get back ’till 7:30 or 8 p.m.,” Cole said of his busy days.

Early morning work outs get him out of bed, as he needs to get to the gym at 6 a.m., while his job keeps him out past supper, and his school fills in the middle during the week.

The TRU team is a step up for Cole, with a deep bench of players culled from all over the world, with players from New York and even Japan joining Cole on the diamond.

Playing with that calibre of player, with such a diverse array of players was a bit of a change for Cole.

“It was different at first, but as soon as we get to know each other and mesh, it’s back to baseball as usual,” Cole said.

Cole is still fresh, having played only the autumn season, a tour down to the west coast, with a couple games out in Alberta. The team though has a pretty impressive record for that short stint, with 29 wins and just three losses

Though he’s not getting as much play as he did in Lethbridge, Cole is happy with his time on the diamond.

During the run down the coast, in New Westminster, Cole was offered a chance to take the next step, by a scout from the Blue Jays.

“It was awesome,” Cole said of the moment he got the offer.

“I didn’t even really know who he was at first because he just came up and started talking to me. It was kind of a shock.”

The scout offered him a door into dream for every kid to pick up a bat and a mitt: playing in the big league.

For now though, Cole isn’t getting to worked up about things and isn’t making any decisions about anything quite yet, not knowing how it will play out and still waiting for the final details of the camp.

“It’s basically a play it by ear thing,” he said.

“Until the camp I’ll keep doing my thing and going to school.”

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