Brian Westlake has been with Mississauga North Baseball Association since the early 90's. Along with Ron Gotwalt, he has been responsible for coaching in 3 National Championships and groomed players like Chris Leroux to be ready for pro ball.
These days, Brian has taken on a task equally important to Mississauga North; museum curator. For the past 3 months, Westlake has been digging up the history of Mississauga North which dates back to early days of Streetsville baseball in 1860.
Along with the history of the organization, Westlake has combed through the records to discover some of the talent that was produced at Mississauga North and continues to flourish at the professional level.
As players like Leroux and former Mississauga North Tiger, Shawn Hill prove that even a kid from suburban Canada can make it and stay in the big leagues, players like Josh Naylor and Royce Ando are earning their stripes with the Junior National Team.
Ando and Naylor's last year with Mississauga North was in 2012 when they captured the Provincial Championship for the Tigers. Since then, they have also added a 16U Mickey Mantle World Series title to their resume.
And now, in a few days they will be teammates again as Team Canada plays against some Major League teams at Spring training in Florida.
TALENT GIVING BACK
Another dynamic duo for Mississauga North that played on the Junior National Team was AJ and Jordan Wideman. Both brothers were drafted by Major League teams and spent time playing professional baseball as a pitcher and catcher.
Now that they have retired from the game, the Wideman's have returned to Mississauga and spend time teaching the younger Tigers' players everything they need to know to get to the next level.
In Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code, the reader will learn how talent blooms have occurred in places like Russia, Brazil and Curacao when someone from a local area has achieved the heights of greatness in the sports.
Little League baseball in Curacao was forever changed when a bunch of children from the small latin country witness Andruw Jones' dramatic two-homerun game for the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Five years after Jones' famous night, Curacao would qualify for the Little League World Series for only the second time in their nations history. Most of the players on that team signed up after Jones' big night.
With so much success in the history of Mississauga North baseball, one could argue that the ignition has already occurred. They have multiple players playing in the Major Leagues and two of the best players in the country on their National Team.
With little public recognition of their success stories, players continued to sign up for baseball and became great.
But I believe the very best is yet to come. I know that Josh and Royce will achieve greatness on and off the ball field. They will get great scholarship offers and they will be drafted by Major League teams.
As they reach the pinnacles of the sport and we relay their success to the local kids playing on Mississauga diamonds, an ignition of talent will bloom at the Tigers organization. Through effective coaching techniques and affordable year round training facilities, stars will emerge and the Mississauga burrows of Meadowvale and Streetsville will become common references amongst scouts and recruiters.
14-year-old Cooper Davis is waiting in the wings with Mississauga North. Soon to be amongst the nations top talent and representing the Tigers on the world stage in the near future.
Five years from now, my 11 year Major Mosquito team will be the same age as Josh and Royce. With the motivation to train being ignited by the success of guys who hang out with them at The Den, there is no limit to the heights of performance these players will reach.
Mississauga North has always been a major player in the world of baseball. Overshadowed by elite teams who provided players with indoor training and higher levels of competition, the Tigers program became known as a breeding ground for these organizations.
But the playing field is quickly being leveled. The Den is a world class amateur baseball facility. The coaching is being enhanced with teachers that played collegiate and pro ball. Teams are being formed to compete in the same showcases and circuits that elite teams enter.
As players achieve higher levels and promote the organization that started them in Tee ball, a hotbed of talent will perpetually emerge from The Den and show the world how a bunch of volunteer Moms and Dads can change a community.
A day when shout-outs to the Mississauga North Tigers are regular occurrences on baseball broadcasts as seen here.