Baseball a passion for Kelowna teen
Athletically inclined from a young age, Courtney Desjardins enjoyed her time on both the volleyball and basketball courts.
But for the 17-year-old from Kelowna, neither sport provided the thrill or fulfillment she derives from playing baseball.
"When I'm on the baseball field, I feel like I'm at home," Desjardins said. "Because I've grown up with it, I feel like it runs through my blood. A lot of my best friends are the girls I play baseball with. I just love it."
Desjardins, a Grade 11 student at KSS, has been making regular weekend trips to the Lower Mainland this year to train and practise with the B.C. Selects program.
Earlier this winter, she travelled to Cuba for a training camp with Canada's senior national team, featuring 39 girls from across the country.
"It was the coolest experience ever," she said. "To able to train and play with high-end players like that was amazing. Cuba was really great, too. Baseball is so big there."
While opportunities in girls' baseball are fewer and further between than they are in softball, Desjardins has found avenues to continue to developing her game since first taking up the sport almost decade ago.
Desjardins made some of her greatest progress while playing with the Okanagan Halos' program for six seasons, many of those under the tutelage of coach Danny Jones.
"Coach Danny was a huge impact on me over the years," said Desjardins, who plays mostly at first base but, on occasion, also catches and pitches.
"He wasn't afraid to make us work hard and achieve the goals that we had set out for ourselves. I am partly the player I am today because of him and his passion for girls baseball."
Her dad, Ed Desjardins, has also played a key role in Courtney's development, both as a coach and a chauffeur, driving his daughter to many tournaments and camps over the years.
"My wife (Nicole) and I love and live baseball with Courtney," said Ed Desjardins. "She lives and breathes baseball and it's very satisfying for us to see her enjoying it and doing so well at it."
Courtney has enjoyed her share of success since first stepping on to the diamond, including winning the tournament MVP at the 2013 B.C. girls' baseball championship.
She was also named female athlete of the year for 2013 by Baseball B.C.
Next on Desjardins' wish-list is earning a spot on one of two B.C. women's teams which will compete at the Canadian national open championships this August in Whalley.
In the longer term, she hopes to one day land a college scholarship, while also cracking the roster with the national senior women's program
Wherever baseball takes her, Desjardins said none of it would be possible without the help of her two biggest fans.
"My parents' interest and support in what I'm doing is everything to me," she said. "Driving me down to Vancouver all the time, the money and time they put into…it's amazing and allows me to chase my dream. If it wasn't for them, I definitely wouldn't be doing this."