Corner Brook native Travis Taylor is enjoying being home for the holidays to celebrate the festive season with family and friends. ‚ÄĒ Star photo by Dave Kearsey
CORNER BROOK Travis Taylor is enjoying being able to hone his baseball skills in Alberta, but he appreciates the support he‚Äôs received along the way.
A major storm battered the west coast overnight Wednesday, leaving a heavy blanket of the white stuff for the local folks to clean up. Taylor, a Corner Brook native, was busy shovelling snow in the parking lot of the West Newfoundland Press Club early Thursday morning when contacted by The Western Star to talk about his first couple of months at the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs varsity team in Lethbridge.
Taylor said he wanted to give back to those who helped him pursue his baseball dream. The members of the press club, under the leadership of president Todd White, have been big supporters of Taylor in both hockey and baseball during his youth in the city where he learned to be a steady performer at the shortstop position through the Corner Brook Baseball Association.
The group also presented him with a generous donation to help him get settled in Lethbridge when news broke Taylor was invited to the academy to immerse himself in a structured environment for budding baseball prospects.
‚ÄúThey have always been good to me, so I‚Äôm just helping them out because of the help they have given me,‚ÄĚ he said.
Taylor found out he had cracked the Dawgs junior varsity roster before he arrived home Dec. 12 to spend the Christmas break with family and friends. The team represents the younger stars at the academy, while the senior varsity squad features some of the older and more experienced players.
The first couple of months was all about Taylor finding his niche and getting used to life as a focused baseball player. There was a daily diet of practices and a number of instra-squad games to see how everybody lined up as far ads development.
Taylor is pleased with how he has progressed and believes his skills became 100 per cent better because of the quality coaching and the structured baseball environment.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs either you‚Äôre on the field or you‚Äôre in the gym working out,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to be playing a lot of ball according to the coaches.‚ÄĚ
When he returns to the academy after the holiday break, he will get a better understanding of how he stacks up against the top prospects with visions of someday playing college baseball in the United States or, better yet, cracking the roster of a Major League Baseball franchise.
Taylor admits he‚Äôs needed time to adjust, but he has been encouraged by the feedback from Prairie Baseball Academy head coach Todd Hubka.
‚Äú(Hubka) told me the sky is the limit. However far I want to take it,‚ÄĚ said Taylor. ‚ÄúHe said I have lots of talent, but it‚Äôs not developed yet because I am still young. ‚Äú
He has no regrets about moving across the country to play a sport, and is getting used to the hectic juggling act of being on the diamond to getting his education as a sophomore at Lethbridge College.
‚ÄúEducation comes first. Even playing that high up. You still got to do the books,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said of the message players at the academy hear loud and clear.
‚ÄúThe coaches are tough, but they mean well.‚ÄĚ
Adjusting to life away from family and friends is something elite athletes eventually face when an opportunity knocks. It‚Äôs been no different for Taylor, but he said his teammates have been great and there are other players from Eastern Canada so it‚Äôs been going smoothly.
He feels he‚Äôs settling in nicely since he moved out of his billet‚Äôs house. He now shares a place with a couple teammates.
‚ÄúThe first couple of months is hard, but then once you get close to Christmas you‚Äôre just excited to get home, so that‚Äôs what you‚Äôre looking forward to,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.
Over the holidays, he will spend a lot of time back and forth visiting his mom, Trina McLean, and his grandparents, Bob and Pat Taylor, while taking a breather from the diamond. He will miss his dad, Tom Callahan, though because he is working in Alberta and won‚Äôt be home for the holidays.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just looking forward to spending time with family and friends,‚ÄĚ he said.