Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Quick Mind, Quick Feet: Claire Fergusson works toward her softball dreams


For grade 11 Windermere student Claire Fergusson, a love affair with the game that started at age five has now turned into a personal mission to play softball at the college level in the United States. After getting her start playing baseball in the Trout Lake Little League program, Fergusson switched over to softball at age nine and has been playing ever since.

This past fall Fergusson made the prestigious Synergy travel team in Maple Ridge, which focuses on providing young players exposure to college scouts.

“The Synergy team travelled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston, in October and November, to showcase local talents whose teams don’t usually travel as much,” explains Fergusson.

Most of the year, however, Fergusson can be found playing for the White Rock Renegades, training year-round, practising up to three days a week. On top of team practices, Fergusson works out once a week on a strength-and-conditioning program (set up by fitness trainer and former college softball player Jill Munro) with the aspiration to one day receive a scholarship to play in the United States.

Like most young athletes, one of Fergusson’s main priorities is to get stronger.

“I’d like to work on upper-body strength mostly,” says Fergusson. “I’m currently working on getting more power hitting right-handed and throwing.”

On top of that, Fergusson is currently perfecting the art of switch hitting, meaning being able to bat both left handed and right handed when called upon. More specifically, she is working on becoming a left-handed “slapper.”

“A left-handed slapper usually just tries to put the ball in play and then beat the throw [to first base] because you can run to first quicker [rather than the right-handed side of the plate],” Fergusson explains. “A lot of the time it screws up the defensive players because they have to always be guessing where [the batter] is going to put the ball.”

This would only add to the repertoire of an already versatile player who can play shortstop, centre field, pitcher and, because of her quickness, usually bats leadoff.

But the physical side of the game is not even her greatest strength, according to Fergusson.

“I think well on my feet, so when I am put in a situation I can make that snap, tenth-of-a-second decision and just go with it,” she says.
This sharpness of the mind is not only confined to the diamond. Claire is currently taking a full academic course load with the intentions of studying kinesiology and physiotherapy while at university. When asked about how she handles this enormous workload to go along with her training, Fergusson claims self-discipline is key.

“Just being able to lay a schedule out and follow it is the biggest thing,” Fergusson says.

Quite the humble athlete, Fergusson points out that she would not be in the position that she is without the support of those around her, particularly her parents and coaches.

With her natural athleticism and smarts to go along with an uncommon work ethic, Fergusson is primed to achieve anything she puts her mind to. Her current mindset is following her dream: attend college in the U.S. while playing the game she loves.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Let’s Play Ball!
Spring is just around the corner. Time to start thinking about signing up your kids to play baseball or softball.

Vancouver Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Trout Lake Little League. Baseball for boys and girls.

Vancouver Minor Baseball. Plays out of Nanaimo Park. February tryout dates.

Burnaby Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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February 2013 is here

Get your February 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery story, library and community centre.

RCCNews February 2013Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Collingwood Cinemas: A cultural meeting place
  • Ramada Hotel on Kingsway bought by city of Vancouver
  • Eating Out in RC: Poor Italian Restaurant
  • Quick Mind, Quick Feet: Claire Fergusson works to follow her softball dreams
  • Collingwood’s newest community garden
  • Artists welcome neighbours to Art House in the Field

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Go out and play

Focus on fun and basic skills the key to staying active


Less time exercising thumbs, more time running around: that’s what today’s youth need, according to Michael McLenaghen. With a successful professional soccer career, including eight international games for the Canadian Men’s National team behind him, McLenaghen is now the director of community services at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House where he oversees numerous sports-related activities for the children of the area.

“Young people are spending way too much time online, watching television and staying inside,” states McLenaghen.

His claims are not without reason. A recent Health Canada study showed that more than 30 percent of Canadian kids ages five to 17 were overweight, nearly double the average 30 years ago. Much of this has to do with kids not being physically active enough. Statistics Canada research shows that children spend on average almost nine hours a day being inactive, which equates to about 62 percent of their waking hours. A shift in the way we present and promote physical activity, particularly sport, is desperately needed. The man with a vision for this change is Mike McLenaghen.

For McLenaghen, the problem starts when kids are first enrolled into sports and recreation by their parents, usually around age five or six. He believes that kids should not be placed in teams and pitted against each other until age nine at least; instead we should be focusing on fun and the basics like developing ball skills.

“I think that young people need to be channelled into recreation and sporting activities where they learn basic movement skills,” says McLenaghen.

These basic skills include hand-eye coordination, jumping, kicking and rolling, and, according to McLenaghen, are best developed through a range of activities anywhere from gymnastics and dance to simple games such as kick the can and tag.

“From there you can channel kids into various sports such as hockey, soccer, baseball, but again the emphasis needs to be on their relation with the ball, the stick and puck or whatever it may be,” McLenaghen explains.

When we get away from fun and basics and incorporate competition and a lot of structure too early, or as McLenaghen put it, “channeling kids into adult models of sport,” we start running into the problem of kids quitting. McLenaghen points out that 60 percent of boys and girls who started playing sports at age five or six have quit by the time they are 14 years old.

“There is too much pressure, too much emphasis on competition, uniforms, trophies. Not enough emphasis on kids having fun, being creative and developing skills,” says McLenaghen. “Because if kids feel like they are going from [one level of skill to the next], and they keep progressing and getting better, they’re not going to quit. Kids don’t quit things that they get better at.”

McLenaghen also points out that some of the most beneficial activities that kids participate in are not organized by adults at all. For example, impromptu games of tag or pick-up basketball with friends allow them to use their own initiative and creativity as well as stay active.

“The value of unstructured play, I can’t over-emphasize that enough,” states McLeneghan. “It doesn’t need to come down to structured, organized recreation and sport activity all the time, and I think it’s a huge problem as well. We are structuring kids to death, and they get fed up with it.”

With new technology seemingly coming out daily, staying inside and playing with new gadgets is as tempting as ever. For McLenaghen’s vision to become a reality, parents, community leaders and children themselves must be proactive (see Mike’s Tips below). With a bit of help, McLenaghen hopes that youth will want to get up and, as every mom used to say, “Go out and play.”

Mike’s Tips for Parents to Get Their Kids Active

  1. Do research: Finding the right situation and people is crucial. “Make the effort to go out and find not just good coaches in sport, but good leaders and good teachers.”
  2. Set limits: Parents should closely monitor how much time their children are spending online. “TV, iPhones, iPads, computers, all of it. [Parents] need to be tough, set clear boundaries for the kids.”
  3. After-school programs: 3:00 to 5:00 pm is a key time for keeping kids active because this is the time usually that kids are getting off school but parents are still at work. “[The children] go home, they are [roughly] 12 years old, and they do whatever, play video games and those kinds of things. It’s not that you have to have all of the[children’s] time structured, but at times like after school they need some support, and it needs to be quality support.”
  4. Check out local programs that provide a safe place for kids to be active: “Collingwood Neighbourhood House provides great gymnastics and dance programs for children right down from two years old all the way up to 12 years old. As well as a number of sport activities like soccer, basketball, floor hockey.”

 Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

© Copyright (c) 2012 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News