For those of you who have been around for awhile, you might have noticed that I haven’t devoted as much time or blog space to the Quyon Flyers this summer as I usually do. My brother chose to only play in league games this year and gave up playing the tournament circuit. For that reason, I’ve missed the tourneys, and so it’s felt like a lackluster ball season for me.
But that’s all about to change! The Flyers wrapped up their regular season a few weeks ago with the first undefeated record the Greater Ottawa Fastball League has ever seen, going 15-0-3 to take first place heading into the playoffs. This has earned them a bye through the first round, which is currently being played out now, and places them in the Final Weekend Showdown, a new format in place this year that will see a double-knockout tournament played in Quyon on September 9-10th to determine who the league champion will be.
That’s right. I’m finally going to spend a weekend at the ball park!
To gear up for the Final Weekend Showdown, I thought it might be fun to do a few “Meet the Players” posts, to introduce you to the team and help you get to know the guys on the field that I will likely be telling you all about in a few weeks. (I know some of you know them already, but just play along, okay?)
I even did a few interviews with Coach Kenny Fleck to make these player bios even more authentic. Like real sports reporting, or something. Cool, right?! But don’t be surprised if I veer off track in my introductions and end up telling stories about them that have nothing to do with fastpitch softball…
So before we go any further, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Coach Kenny:
Kenny & his stache, “Le Terrien” – at the 2010 Worlds (yes, they named their mustaches)
Kenny is my cousin. Grew up next door to me on Stanton Road. He used to play for the Flyers, but in recent years, he has moved into the position of Coach/Manager. He’ll still put himself into a game at first base if need be, still wears the ol’ #9, but he seems to really enjoy steering the ship. He is more commonly known around the league as “Big Papi”, but honestly, I just can’t bring myself to call my “little cousin” that!
Over the past few years, Kenny has coached the Flyers from a young and inexperienced team into the GOFL powerhouse & ISC-ranking team that they are today. (Watch out, folks, Kenny’s head is about to burst out of his ball cap right now…)
I think one of my favourite moments of the past season was when Kenny disagreed with a call and he charged out on the field to make his feelings known to the base ump. Sort of reminded me of when we were kids, and I always got stuck being the ref of the neighbourhood ball hockey games. Kenny used to get up in my face back then too, so I sympathized with that ump…
At the Final Weekend Showdown, Kenny will be attempting to bring home the first GOFL title for the Flyers. I wish him and the team the best of luck!
Now that you’re all familiar with Kenny, I’m going to introduce you to the players, going alphabetically. So today, we’ll start with #7, Nick Armitage.
Nick and his mustache, which I think he called “The Butcher”
Nick is known to his teammates as Albie, but I personally prefer to call him Dom. And if I’m not mistaken, his French-speaking fans call him “Dominic Boucher”. Nick is a veteran on the team, having played with the Flyers since the very beginning. In fact, Nick’s grandfather Ronnie, along with my own dad (and others), gave many of these young men their first start on the ball diamond when they were just little boys. I like to proclaim myself the “Flyers #1 Fan”, but I’ve been told by several of the players that I’m second behind Ronnie. Apparently I missed the boat on buying them that pitching machine…
When I asked Coach Fleck for some insight into Nick’s game, he told me, “He plays both the infield and the outfield as well as anyone in the game.” One thing I can tell you about Nick is that I don’t think he even realizes his own strength. The guy is built – pardon my language – like a brick shithouse. As a friend of my brother’s growing up (actually, I believe we’re related somehow), Nick and his grandparents spent a lot of time at our place when we were kids, and I ended up on the crying end of many injuries suffered at his hands. One time, when he was really little – maybe about the age of 5 – he was crawling around the floor pretending to be a dog, and he actually BIT my bare foot. I’m not even joking. And when I went whining to my mother about Nick wounding me, she’d always brush it off, saying, “Oh, he can’t help it, he doesn’t realize he’s hurting you.”
Albie is a family man now, and I’m sure his wife Tammy and daughter Keira will be in the stands, hopefully cheering him and the Flyers on to their first league title during the Final Weekend Showdown!
Next up, it brings me great joy to introduce you to my favourite Quyon Flyer, Mike Baker:
No mustache pic of Mikey, unfortunately
Some of the guys on the team have asked me over the past year just why Mike, or “Bakeshop” as they call him, is my favourite. Well, you see, first of all, he wears my favouriter number, #6. And you know what? I just love Mike’s story. As the youngest member on the team, he took advantage of a duel with the team’s pitching machine at their fundraiser 3-pitch tourney last summer, completely owning it and impressing the “powers that be” enough to earn a try-out with the team. Mike’s first at-bat in a Flyers uniform? He hit a homerun. The boy oozes athletic talent and confidence.
Seriously. What’s not to love about Mikey?
Mike with teammate Matt on Canada Day
Coach Fleck can’t help but concur with my observations. “As the team’s rookie, the kid can run like no Flyer before him. He can also play middle infield as well as the outfield,” the coach raved when I asked about him.
Another reason I love Mike? He loves my drunken alter-ego Sadie. In fact, he calls me Sadie all the time, even when I’m not Sadie. A few weeks ago at the bar, he introduced me to someone saying, “This is my friend Sadie. And I am her favourite Quyon Flyer.” Oh, and that’s another reason I love Mike. He doesn’t get embarrassed when I tell people he’s my favourite. Mikey embraces it.
He’s a great young addition to the team, and will surely play a key role in the Flyers’ performance in the Final Weekend Showdown. I’m certain my favourite Flyer will have a memorable weekend!
The final player for today’s meet & greet is Troy Cote:
I apparently need to take some pics of Troy in a ball uniform…
Wearing the #19 jersey, Tron – or Jumbotron, as I like to call him – is in his second year with the Flyers, and has been a great addition to the team. In my interview with Coach Fleck, he noted that Troy is adjusting nicely, and also added, “He knows his role and will do anything to help the team win.”
Yet, I wonder sometimes how Troy feels taking coaching advice from Fleck, when it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that he was baby-sitting Kenny, or “Butternuts” as he fondly calls him. That’s right. Troy was the “big kid” on our block when we were growing up, and spent many nights organizing the neighbourhood boys in games of Rat Race or ball hockey.
I recall one evening when Troy was playing a game of softball out in Kenny’s yard with the younger kids, and I was sitting out in my own yard next door watching them. When my brother Luke was up to bat, he swung so hard at a pitch that when he missed, the bat flew around and smacked him in the back of the head. Luke fell to the ground howling, while Troy couldn’t help but burst out laughing. My mom came flying out of the house to see why her darling baby was screaming his head off, and as soon as Troy saw Mom coming, he tried to stop laughing and pretend he was concerned!!
Tron & Luke a few weeks ago at the wedding
Now years later, Jumbo will be arriving at the Final Weekend Showdown as a newlywed, and I hope to see his new bride, Steph, in the stands to help us cheer on the Flyers. Good luck, Troy!!
So there’s a quick glance at the coach of the Quyon Flyers, along with three of the players. On Thursday, we will be just a little over a week from the FWS, and I will be featuring Tim Craig, Curtis Daley, and Joran Graham here on the Blog. Be sure to come back then and meet some more of the players who will be vying for the GOFL title!
In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my GIVEAWAY!!! Two days left!! :)