Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Avery Smith made history as the first female Holland College Hurricanes baseball player. CBC News

Avery Smith grabs a baseball, runs to the field and heads for the bullpen. Her eyes focus as she winds up and throws a pitch straight into the catcher’s glove.

“Atta girl,” yells Holland College Hurricanes pitching coach Joe Puia.

“Now you’re throwing strikes.”

Although baseball is known for its traditional chatter – “Atta Girl” is a relatively new addition here.

The team practices at Victoria Park in Charlottetown and Avery is its first female player.

“It’s actually a great feeling,” said Avery, who learned he had made up the team’s roster while scrolling social media.

“I was in a room by myself and I let out a little scream… I definitely told my parents that it was finalized and they were happy.”

‘He earned this position’

Last weekend, the 17-year-old pitcher and second baseman made school history as she took the field in Frederickton against the University of New Brunswick Reds.

But this isn’t the first time Avery has played “boys’ baseball” as she calls it.

“It’s been my whole life,” she said.

“The love on social media has gone crazy, and my whole family is so happy with it and they’re really excited to see,” says Avery Smith. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

Despite his incredible achievements, Avery is humble and quick to laugh at questions that make him such a good player.

The head coach, however, is clear that the decision to add Avery to the team was simple based on his skills.

“She has earned this position and it is well deserved and she can contribute at this level,” said Andrew McNevin.

“If there were more like him, we would have taken many more.”

Hurricanes head coach Andrew McNevin says, ‘He is one of the first and last people to go here. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

Holland College’s athletic director agreed and said he was excited about what this could mean for the future of the school’s programs.

“We welcome the opportunity for women to come. It’s an open effort every year,” said Albert Roche.

“We expect a lot more to happen under Avery’s lead.”

‘boundless’

There’s no denying that Avery loves baseball. But like other teenage girls in the game, she said she considered quitting when she was 13.

“I just started falling in love with it.”

Still, she stuck to it and eventually her passion returned. Now, for other girls who find themselves in a similar situation, she offers a small reminder:

“There’s no limit to what you can do.”

‘She knows what it takes to play at this level,’ says Albert Roche, director of athletics and recreation at Holland College. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

Coach McNevin said he looked forward to seeing more of Avery on the field this season.

“He deserves to be here,” he said.

“She will definitely have her opportunities and she will compete.”

Avery has no plans to leave his position any time soon and is expected to return again next season.

“My goal is just to do my best. Work as hard as you can, put your work into practice and be here with the team.”

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