Oakbank, Man., serves as a bedroom community for Winnipeg.
The population is 3,000 and you will meet one of its residents at the upcoming Grand Forks International (GFI) baseball tournament.
Aaron Horanski played a lot of baseball growing up in the Keystone province yet he was considered an average player at best.
No one could foresee this young kid’s name showing up on a team lineup card in the Canada Cup; that’s for elite players.
You need to be good to represent your province at a Canadian championship, except Aaron had other ideas, for if you check the box scores in both the 2010 and 2011 Canada Cup competitions – which is Baseball Canada’s annual event for the best U18 players in our country – you will find the name of that “ordinary” ballplayer from Oakbank.
Gary Ahuja wrote a recent story about Horanski in the Langley Times. It seems Jamie Bodaly, the coach of the Langley Blaze of the B.C. Premier Baseball League, contacted a fellow coach in Manitoba, asking if he could recommend some baseball talent.
The answer was this young hardworking guy who couldn’t really hit very well. There must have been some talent somewhere in Horanski’s body, the aforementioned Canada Cup participation would attest to that.
Well, could we say that Bodaly took a chance, or maybe had a hunch?
As Horanski worked his way into the lineup of Langley’s outstanding team – in 2012 they finished on top of the best U18 baseball league in Canada – the Manitoban’s bat caught fire. When the season ended last month Aaron had won the league batting title with a scorching average of .416.
He commented on leaving his Manitoba home to come west over the mountains, “It was a tough decision.” Indeed he left his family behind. Yet the experience of playing for a great team, in a superb league would pay dividends for his baseball (and academic future).
He has accepted a scholarship to attend the University of B.C. (UBC) this fall, and wear the uniform of the UBC Thunderbirds.
Before that happens he will suit up in a Team Canada jersey at the 2012 GFI. Certainly an inspiration to young ballplayers and other athletes in our community; hard work and dedication does pay off, along with coaches and mentors who can help bring out the best in you.