By Tina Comeau
It’s that feeling of anticipation coupled with that required split-second reaction that appeals to Zach Thibault.
One second there’s the crack of the bat. The next a play has to be made and you don’t have the luxury of taking your time in deciding what you’re going to do.
“You have to act. You don’t really have time to think. You just do it,” says the 17-year-old when explaining what it is about baseball that he loves the most. “And if you hit the ball and someone drops it, it’s insane.”
Thibault has played and loved baseball for as long as he can remember. His parents have a video of him playing in the yard with his mother at the age of two. His dad says you can hear the youngster shouting, ‘Throw the ball! Throw the ball!’ and then running in circles after hitting what a toddler feels fall into the category of a homerun.
A lot of years, practices, games and distance have filled the gap between then and now.
At present Thibault is preparing to head to Sherbrooke, Quebec in early August to compete at the Canada Games as part of Nova Scotia’s baseball team. It was an opportunity he learned about last year and set as a goal to check off of his baseball bucket list.
“I wanted to be on the starting lineup and I’m on the starting lineup. I play short stop and second base almost every game,” he says, referring to the games being played in the lead up to the summer games. Aside from two or three practices a week to prepare for the Canada Games, the Nova Scotia team has been playing games against junior and intermediate teams in the province, which included a double header against the Gateways earlier this month in Yarmouth.
For Thibault it was great to be home since home is not somewhere he gets to hang his baseball cap very often.
This past school year he attended the Prospects Baseball Academy in Alberta, and he returns there again at the end of August for his Grade 12 year. About the baseball side of the academy he says, “You have to work so hard. You’re inside all winter playing baseball and you’re not used to playing inside. You have to work on all of your fundamentals and tweak things when you’re inside. You get so much better because you have so much one-on-one time with the coaches.”
The year prior to going to Alberta the teenager had played baseball in Ontario and preparing now for the Canada Games as part of Team Nova Scotia has meant he’s had to live in Halifax since it’s not practical to travel back and forth from Yarmouth to Halifax three or more times a week for practices and games.
Zach’s father, Richard Thibault, says being away from home so much is part of the sacrifice that Zach and his family, including his mother Elizabeth, have made as the teenager works to get as far in baseball as he can.
“He’s very close to his family. He’s very close to his friends. He has an amazing group of friends here in Yarmouth. To be separated from that by choice because you’re making a decision for your sport definitely screams commitment,” says his father. This commitment, along with being selected for Team Nova Scotia, gives the parents special admiration for their son.
“Being proud of him is probably an understatement,” says Richard Thibault.
The family is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, July 27 to help raise funds for the trip to the Canada Games. From noon to 7 p.m. they will be serving rappie pie, homemade cake, tea and coffee, There will also be local music for entertainment. The cost is $10 a person. The family has also set up a Zachary Thibault – Canada Games 2013 Facebook page.
Meanwhile, when it comes to baseball Zach has set many goals for himself.
“I’m trying to make the junior national team for next year, that’s my goal,” he says. “And then after that I hope to get a scholarship or something to play Division 1 university or community college. And then hopefully after that I get drafted.”
Asked what it means to have been selected for Team Nova Scotia, he says, “It’s an incredible honour knowing you’re going to go represent your province and play for a medal. I’m from Yarmouth and it’s a little town, but it shows how dedication can help you get far.”
(Note to readers. The Vanguard will have more profiles on Yarmouth County athletes headed to the Canada Games.)