Come and cheer our boys of summer, the U18 Leaside Leafs

The U18 Leaside Leafs.
The U18 Leaside Leafs.

I LOVE live sporting events. Whether it’s watching my kids, amateurs, or professionals playing a myriad of sports, the thrill of the game rarely fails to entertain.

But live sports can sometimes be costly. Want to bring the family to a Blue Jays game? By the time you factor in the price of tickets, parking, and the requisite snacks, you could be looking at a number higher than the years before Toronto gets a TTC relief line.

But no one should miss out on the excitement of cheering on a team and experiencing the taste of a stadium dog.

With premium snacks, DJed music, and an amazing team on the field, an afternoon or evening of exciting sports awaits at Leaside’s Talbot Park. All for the grand total of…free.

The team providing the entertainment is the U18 Leaside Leafs, who, in just their second year playing in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario (EBLO), has been promoted to the top, or Premier, division. The Leafs face teams from across Ontario and play in tournaments in both Canada and the U.S. In the past four years alone, over 80 players from EBLO have signed on to play university or college baseball with Canadian and U.S. schools.

A U18 Leaside Leaf pitcher prepares to throw.
A U18 Leaside Leaf pitcher prepares to throw.

What differentiates this team from others is not just the high calibre of their play, but the approach of the players, parents, and coaches.

Under the guidance of a fully non-parent coaching staff led by head coach Peter Nash and six other top-level coaches, the players are held to high standards both on and off the field.

As parent Jeff Henry notes, the coaches “are instilling in the players a strong sense of accountability, pride, and commitment, at both the individual and team level,” and emphasize the importance of education above all else. The coaches, in fact, have hired an instructor who has worked with the players on time-management and study skills.

Long-term education and baseball goals are addressed concurrently with baseball scouts and coaches from post-secondary institutions assessing players while guidance is provided for the best educational fit.

The coaches also offer the players lessons in nutrition, sports psychology, and physiology as part of their skill development.

The players, as Nash points out, are expected to take ownership of their actions and adhere to high work ethics, including “doing work when nobody is looking.”

Most of the players participate in other sports and extracurricular activities and have an impressive understanding of the need to manage their time effectively. Player Christian Del Giudice comments, “It’s important as a student-athlete with post-secondary aspirations to learn how to manage his/her time efficiently to achieve success both on and off the field.” The ability to juggle multiple commitments is a skill the coaches emphasize.

The high level of training available to players both during and off-season includes instruction from an Olympic weight-lifting coach, biomechanical analysis and refinement, speed and agility training from an ex-varsity sprinting coach, and motor pattern analysis and refinement. The expression “practice makes perfect” is redefined as “perfect practice makes perfect.”

Players also have the opportunity to mobilize funds through sponsorship appeals to lower their fees. Sponsors are recognized with banners at home games.

Between high level training, and the emphasis on educational goals, the U18 Elite Leaside Leafs are learning life skills far beyond the field. But on the field is also top notch.

Check out EBLO’s website (www.elitebaseball.ca) for home and away games and bring your friends and family to catch exciting baseball.

About Susan Scandiffio 30 Articles
Susan Scandiffio was born in Scotland and raised in Toronto. While she holds a master’s degree in history, her main passion (besides her wonderful family) is sports. Susan can often be found at the A.C.C. or in a Leaside arena or playing field, scoping out stories for Leaside Life.