Founder of Indigenous softball program receives national coaching award – Winnipeg

Patrick Leask has earned some recognition for the work he’s been placing in on ball diamonds.

Leask, a member of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba, has been chosen because the 2021 male recipient of the Nationwide Indigenous Teaching Awards, introduced by the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the nationwide governing physique for Indigenous sports activities in Canada.

Leask began Oji-Cree Softball this previous February. The objective is to introduce the softball growth program to as many kids as potential, each Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in Manitoba.

Although his clinics had been open to each women and boys, Leask stated one of many essential causes he began this system is that boys within the province have loads of baseball choices however restricted softball selections. Softball options underhand pitching, utilizing a bigger ball than baseball. Women, nonetheless, have quite a few softball applications that they’re able to be a part of.

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“In Manitoba, there’s no alternative (for boys) to play a league sport or have practices,” he stated.

Leask ran a dozen softball clinics all through the province this previous yr. The clinics had been for these on the under-6 to under-17 ranges.

“We had 52 individuals at one of many camps,’” Leask stated.

That camp was held in Leask’s First Nation.

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Leask now lives in Brandon. He additionally held a pair of camps in his present hometown.

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“Sport Manitoba helped me out financially to have the camps I had in Brandon,” he stated.

All the camps/clinics that Leask runs via Oji-Cree Softball are freed from cost to kids.

Bills to function the clinic are lined by the First Nation the place it’s being supplied.

“Each neighborhood that I am going to they assist out,” he stated. “That’s how I promote that it’s free for the children.”

Leask was nominated for his nationwide award by Cadin Dupasquier, the Indigenous neighborhood sports activities marketing consultant for the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports activities and Recreation Council.

Leask stated he had recognized for a number of weeks that Dupasquier had put his title ahead as a nominee.

“I came upon final week that I obtained it,” he stated. “I used to be sort of shocked.”

Leask stated he was stunned to obtain such a prestigious award since this was the primary yr of his softball program.

Apart from receiving a trophy, the nationwide Indigenous teaching award comes with a $1,500 money prize.

However Leask doesn’t plan to maintain the cash for private use.

“It’s going for use in the direction of my program,” he stated. “With out this program, I by no means would have gained this award. So, I’m placing it proper again into this system.”

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Apart from operating a dozen camps in varied areas in 2021, Leask additionally fielded a boys’ under-16 workforce this yr.

“We needed to discover groups to play towards,” he stated.

The squad ended up collaborating in 16 video games, together with a number of towards groups that various First Nations rapidly put collectively.

Although scores had been stored in these matches, Leask didn’t pay a lot consideration to them.

“It was principally simply to get the children concerned,” he stated.

Leask additionally has some massive plans for Oji-Cree Softball in 2022. He’ll proceed to run camps all through the province.

And he’s additionally planning to function a number of completely different groups. The hope is to function boys’ journey squads on the under-15 and under-17 ranges. He’s additionally desirous to run a boys’ under-17 leisure membership.

Leask will maintain tryouts for these golf equipment within the new yr. Each Indigenous and non-Indigenous gamers will probably be eligible to attempt to earn spots on the groups.

“I’m in all probability going to begin in January,” he stated, including winter coaching periods will probably be staged indoors. “After which within the spring we’ll get outdoor.”

Throughout his first yr of working Oji-Cree Softball, Leask stated he seen there have been a lot of Indigenous youth gamers who’ve loads of potential within the sport.

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“Since I’ve began this I’ve seen a variety of expertise popping out,” he stated.

Leask stated he has not solely witnessed it himself however varied sports activities directors from quite a few First Nations have instructed him how eager gamers from their communities are about softball.

“These children are out on the diamonds after faculty and in the summertime simply throwing the ball round for hours,” he stated.

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