It’s been a while since I wrote to the Cree Nation about our Cree athletes. I have been watching a lot of games, talked to many athletes and parents, but most of all heard so many good stories. I first would like to wish luck to Helen Gunner in her decision to join Holy Cross school in NCAA athletic program in the USA… Way to go Helen! I also would like to share the following two stories… One happens in the summertime while the other one awaits for each winter to come back.

The parents of little Randall Pachanos-Wasipabano, Robin and Thomas Wasipabano from Chisasibi, are pursuing their education in Hull, Quebec. Having to take summer classes, summer activities were to be found to keep little Randall busy and happy. From all summer activities available in the area, they decided to enroll him in baseball…without knowing the special crusade their little boy would take them to… Read the article by Ron Burnett.

The lad from Chisasibi stars on the baseball diamond By Ron Burnett This past spring and summer I had the distinct pleasure of coaching Randall Pachanos-Wasipabano in baseball. Randall now resides in Hull, but his hometown is Chisasibi. Our team was Hull-Duguay Sports and we played in the competitive Atom division (8- and 9-year-olds). Being in the competitive division meant our team was comprised of the best 8- and 9-year-old players from Hull and we played our 20-game regular season against teams of the best players from each of the other towns in the Outaouais region of Quebec. With playoffs, our season concluded in the middle of August.

I first met Randall back in April, when try-outs for the team were held. The two assistant coaches and I were all surprised by this youngster who threw rockets and hit rockets. That youngster was Randall and I was even more surprised when I looked at my list of players who were trying out and saw that Randall was only 7 years old and would not turn 8 until later in the summer. “Man, what a player” is what I thought and Randall proved again and again throughout the season that, indeed, he is one great player. Even more importantly he also proved what a fine young man he is – a true sportsman admired and liked by his teammates, coaches and the parents of all our team’s players.

I thought I’d note some highlights of our season as examples of Randall’s achievements. I can only do some examples because if I were to list them all, my article would be too long.

In addition to being a terrific and consistent pitcher throughout the season, Randall also showed some great defensive play. I’ll never forget the quarterfinal game we played in the St-Jean Chrysostome tournament in Quebec City. That tournament is one of the biggest Atom competitive division tournaments in the province and attracts teams from all over Quebec. To make it to the quarterfinals is quite an accomplishment. Well, our team did that one better, we made it to the semifinals, thanks in no small part to the play, which I’m about to describe.

Let me set the stage – it’s the other team’s last at-bat in the 6th inning of our quarterfinal game (Atom games are 6 innings). We’re ahead 11-9 but the other team has been chipping away at our lead over the last few innings. Momentum is strongly in the other team’s favor when their batter takes his stance at the plate. You can just feel the tension. The pitch is thrown and, oh no, the batter hits a screaming line drive, I mean an absolute rocket, towards shortstop. Before I even have time to think, I see Randall at shortstop diving to his left and the line drive pounding into his glove. He caught it! Everybody lets out a huge cheer and the tide has turned. The inning ends quickly after that and we’re off to the semifinals. All I can say is I’ve been involved in baseball pretty well all my life and that, my friends, is one play I will never forget. It is plays like that, at critical times like that, contributing to our team’s effort to win, which make life-long memories and baseball the great sport that it is.

Randall also accomplished something entirely unique this year. He was the only 8-year-old who made the Outaouais team, which represented the Outaouais region in this year’s Quebec provincial baseball championships. The Outaouais team was an all-star team made up of the best players from each of the six Atom competitive teams in the Outaouais region. All the boys on that team were 9 years old, except for one who was 8 years old and that was Randall. I told Randall and his parents how proud they should be of that accomplishment, and they rightly were. I was proud of him as well.

I am very pleased that Randall chose to play the great game of baseball this year and I hope he continues. With his talent, who knows, maybe one day we’ll see him in the Major Leagues. Whether he makes the Major Leagues or not, the fact remains that youngsters experience and learn a lot of positive things from playing organized baseball, which they can apply throughout their life no matter what they choose to do: teamwork, how to win with grace and how to lose with dignity. Randall experienced and learned all those things this baseball season. As Randall’s head coach I want to say, ‘‘Well done Randall! You’re a heckuva ball player and a heckuva young man!” In closing, I would like to thank both Randall’s dad, Thomas and The Nation for giving me the opportunity to write this article about Randall. I consider it an honor to have been asked, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.