A Bridgewater, N.S., teen hopes an elite baseball academy in Alberta is his ticket to playing Division 1 U.S. college ball.
Brandon Wentzell, 16, is suiting up for the Badlands Baseball Academy this year in Oyen, Alta. The team travels throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan to play its opponents.
The Grade 11 student was scouted by the team's coach, although Wentzell said the school was already on his radar because friends of his had played there.
"They've all told me how good it is, how well it's ran and how impressive it is," said the 6-0, 195-pound catcher and outfielder.
Wentzell has an agreement to play for the team this year and hopes to play for them again next year.
Student by day, ball player by night
During the day, Wentzell attends South Central High School in Oyen, which is about 300 kilometres east of Calgary.
Amid COVID-19, Wentzell said he's required to wear a mask in the hallways at school, but once he's in the classroom, the mask isn't necessary. But if he needs to get a pencil from their teacher, he must put on his mask again.
Once school is done for the day, Wentzell plays baseball for the academy.
The team practises daily and he said there aren't many restrictions other than some requirements to sanitize their stalls and weight room at their training facility.
Wentzell played Midget AAA baseball last season in Halifax and said the competition this year is much better than what he faced last year.
"It worries me once in a while, but you come out to here to get better and you can't let that get in to your head, so you just got to tell yourself that you're still in the pack and you worked hard to get to this point, so you just got to keep working hard every day and keep going," he said.
For Wentzell, playing baseball is a relaxing experience that clears his mind.
It's unlike his other passion — firefighting. Wentzell served as the captain of the junior firefighting unit of the Bridgewater Fire Department.
He said every facet of it, from being in confined spaces to knocking down fires, is "100 per cent adrenaline."
Wentzell has his eye on playing U.S. college ball, but doesn't have a particular school in mind. His mind isn't wandering to thoughts of playing baseball professionally either.
"That would be an unbelievable dream, but you can't reach for the stars yet," Wentzell said. "You gotta move day by day and hopefully good things come my way one day."
MORE TOP STORIES