L’ARDOSIE: It was a trip that saw Temeka Stevens, a young baseball player from L’Ardoise, show folks in the Dominican Republic that Canadians know their way around a ball diamond – and that girls can compete very well against their male counterparts.
“We got to see their way of life and it was an amazing learning experience,“ Stevens said, talking to The Reporter of the good will baseball tour she went on with high-level athletes from Sydney, Glace Bay and New Waterford.
“It’s heart-breaking and eye-opening all at once. Some people are well-to-do down there, and others suffer from poverty. It really opens your eyes.
“We went to a village and brought the kids candy and some resources, school supplies and medical supplies. We took ball equipment down as well. We collected all that, got donations, and sent all that down there – anything that they’d need.”
Stevens was traveling with a U18 team, composed entirely of guys except for her. She had a good rapport with the team, as she played ball with them last summer. When it came to the baseball side of the trip, Stevens and crew competed against teams from Juan Guzman Foundation. Action took place in a number of venues, including the Guzman field and recreation centre.
Having the Cape Bretoners head down was a mixed blessing for the Dominicans, at least in terms of keeping their record intact.
“We won one of the four games we played,” Stevens said. “We were the first Canadian team to go down and beat them this year. Edmonton and Calgary had gone down too, but we were the first to win a game.”
The trip took place over March Break, and the Cape Bretoners left a good impression during their stay – both as athletes and good will ambassadors. In Stevens’ case, her visit might have gone one step beyond humanitarian aid. Seeing Stevens play opened some people’s eyes on the role of women in baseball.
“I still keep in touch with a few of the players now, and they had never seen a girl play baseball before,” she said. “Anna [Juan Guzman’s wife] told me she loves baseball and playing the sport, but she never had the chance because they don’t let girls play down there.
“It was kind of a shock for the guys to see me on the field, but they were very respectful. They took me in like one of their own.”
Stevens was given an MVP medal by the Dominican coaches and, with that, was given a very complimentary nick name by her hosts.
“The coaches would come over in the dugout just about every game, calling me the MVP,” she said.
“If that’s one impression I left down there, for any girl who wants to have a future in baseball, I guess I did my job.”
Indeed, it wasn’t just the coaches and players who had their view expanded, due to Stevens’ efforts.
“The best compliment I got down there was from an umpire who told me I changed his mind about girls playing the sport,” she said.
The good reviews of Stevens’ baseball skill weren’t just lip service. A quick look at her efforts with the 2018 Baseball Nova Scotia 16U girls team proves that.
The local pitcher was a star when the team hosted nationals in Bedford. Her work on the mound resulted in one of two wins the Nova Scotians enjoyed at the championship. For helping to down P.E.I. 19-1, Stevens was given a Game MVP.