Renay Willier’s goal is to earn an NCAA women’s fastball scholarship.
The journey to achieve that goal has so far led both Renay and her dad Kevin to be on the road most weekends of the past year in the U.S.
After starting out playing for fun with teams in Kelowna and Summerland, the West Kelowna teenager made a commitment to find and play for the best competition in the Pacific Northwest.
That led her parents Kevin and Vicki Willier to seek out high-level teams Renay could play for in Vancouver.
“But when we started thinking about that, then we thought why not try Seattle because it’s not that much farther than Vancouver and the level of competition would probably be higher,” Kevin said.
In April of last year, Renay earned a spot as shortstop for two different teams, Washington Thunder and Vancouver (Wash.) Patriots.
That meant every weekend through to December, Renay and dad were on the road to play for her American teams in tournaments all across the Pacific Northwest including Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Her play led her to be chosen by the Vancouver team to be included on their team for the Triple Crown Fastpitch U14 World Series in San Diego last summer.
“Last July alone we put 10,000 kilometres on the car,” Kevin said.
She has also had opportunities to play for B.C. girls’ softball provincial teams in national competitions.
The Williers talked about their father-daughter journey before the Central Okanagan Board of Education last week as the Grade 10 Mount Boucherie Secondary student was recognized by trustees for being a recipient of the Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports.
Playing in high profile youth fastpitch tourneys like the Triple Crown event in San Diego and another invitational tournament in Las Vegas last year has placed Renay on the radar of university fastball team recruiters, particularly since she is a 16-year-old often playing with and against 18 year-olds.
“Now is the age when recruiters start calling,” Kevin said. “And she was picked to be the team captain which is quite an accomplishment as they really take their ball seriously down there.”
Renay told the school board her goal is to secure a sports scholarship to an NCAA division 1 or division 2 school.
She acknowledged her dad has been a big coaching influence in helping her develop her ability on the ball diamond once she decided two years ago to take her sport more seriously.
“It’s a little more stressful when your dad is the coach but I am a better player when he is around,” Renay told the school board.