SHUBENACADIE: Cody Anthony has dreamt of wearing the Maple Leaf for Team Canada—now he’s one step closer.
The multi-sport athlete—who just helped the East Hants Junior Penguins to a league title and a silver medal finish at the Don Johnson Cup—is the only Nova Scotian invited among 27 players from across Canada to attend the Canadian Junior Men’s national team selection camp.
The camp is scheduled for Aug. 13-17 in Cambridge, Ont., and 17 players will be picked to represent Canada at the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) Junior Men’s World Championships, set to run Nov. 1-10 in Parana, Argentina.
Anthony said upon being informed about the invite a couple weeks before the list came out, he knew he has some work ahead of him.
“The first thing I need to do is get into shape because I have a team to make,” he said. “Ever since I knew it existed, I was aiming to get the invite to play for them,” he said, recalling four years ago when two team-mates, Patrick Avery and Aaron Long, were named to the team. “It means everything. Softball is big in Shubenacadie, East Hants, my father played it, and all my brothers have played it. It’s always been one of the bigger sports we played around here. I love it more than hockey, that’s just who I am.
“It means everything to me to get the invite.”
In past years there have been East Hants representation invited with Enfield’s Adam Day being the last one when he wore the Maple Leaf in 2007. He made the national team.
Anthony, who just turned 18, said he got the interest to be a pitcher in his second year in the Squirt division.
“My team didn’t have a pitcher,” he said. “I never was a goalie, and they always get the starts in hockey, so I figured ‘well, I want to be in the game more so I better take up pitching.’ Ever since than I have been a pitcher.”
He said there will be about eight pitchers in camp trying to be one of the four or five pitching spots on the team.
“There are at least two guys that I know that I would call locks on the team,” he said, adding he’s a year younger than most of those he will be battling for a spot. “I’m also going to need to hit in order to make the team.”
Anthony said once the season gets going, he’s going to look to see if some intermediate ball players can come out and pitch so he can practice his hitting.
The ace of the Hants East Rural High Tigers boys fast pitch team is planning on getting in the gym more to work on his leg strength and cardio.
The Canadian head coach is Tom Doucette of Middle Musquodoboit. Doucette has been scouting players during the past couple seasons, and Anthony saw he was in attendance at a pair of events in which his team participated.
“I had a good midget Eastern Canadians last year in North River where we won, and I threw three straight games. In Quebec when we came second, I got top pitcher of the tournament and (Tom) was there.”
Anthony will again be suiting up with the East Hants midget fast pitch squad, which will be coached by his brother Matt and father Terry.
“We’ll be going to midget nationals in Fredericton the week before the Team Canada selection camp,” he said.
He said he knows there are things he has to work on to nail down a spot.
“Pitching wise I have to work on my drop ball,” he said. “At the gym, more cardio because believe it or not, pitching all comes from the legs. I’m going to work on them a lot this summer.”
Anthony is thrilled with the opportunity to represent Canada—even if he doesn’t see any game playing time.
“When I got the phone call it was weight off my back because I’ve always wanted to get the chance to play for Team Canada,” he said. “I wouldn’t even need to play to tell you the truth. Just being on the team, among the 17 guys knowing I was in the top 17 in my age group, 19-and-under in Canada, that would be great.
“There’s 13 or 14 ball players here (at HERH) that are good ball players, and to think of me as being one of the top 17 in Canada, it’s pretty amazing.”
HERH Tigers fast pitch head coach Trevor Comeau said Anthony’s invite shows that players from small towns can still be recognized nationally for their talents.
“We’re the softball hotbed of N.S., and I think Softball Canada recognizes this,” said Comeau. “I think this can be a huge motivation to younger athletes who can look up to a player like Cody and realize that it is possible and that it can be done. I think Cody deserves this honor; he has worked very hard for my HERH fast pitch team these past four years.
He said Anthony works just as hard during the summer with the minor ball program he participates in.
“Cody’s success is a direct result of his hard work and dedication to the sport. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with Cody and he will be missed next year. I think that Cody has also demonstrated great leadership skills which helps our team out a lot, and has helped develop some of our younger players.
“The team, school and community will be proud of whatever he accomplishes but are very confident in his ability and drive.”