Lead off: Avery Smith makes history as 1st female Holland College Hurricanes baseball player

·2 min read
17-year-old Avery Smith from Springhill, N.S., is currently studying kinesiology at Holland College.  (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)
17-year-old Avery Smith from Springhill, N.S., is currently studying kinesiology at Holland College. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)

Avery Smith grabs a baseball, walks out on the field and heads to the bullpen. Her eyes focus as she winds up and fires a pitch straight into the catcher's glove.

"Atta girl," yells Holland College Hurricanes pitching coach Joe Puiia.

"You're throwing strikes now."

Although baseball is known for its traditional chatter — "atta girl" is a relatively new addition here.

The team is practising at Victoria Park in Charlottetown and Avery is its first female player ever.

"It's actually a really great feeling," said Avery, who found out she'd made the team's roster while scrolling social media.

"I was on my own in a room and I kind of let out a little scream ... I let my parents know for sure it's finalized and they were ecstatic."

'She's earned this position'

Last weekend, the 17-year-old pitcher and second baseman made school history as she took to the field in Fredericton against the University of New Brunswick Reds.

But this isn't the first time Avery has played "boys' baseball" as she calls it.

"It's been my whole life," she said.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

Despite her incredible accomplishments, Avery is humble and quick to laugh off questions focused on what makes her such a good player.

The head coach, however, is clear that the decision to add Avery to the team was a simple one based on her skill.

"She's earned this position and it's well deserved and she can contribute at this level," said Andrew MacNevin.

"If there were more just like her, we'd take many more."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

The athletic director at Holland College agreed and said he is excited about what this could mean for the future of the school's programs.

"We welcome the opportunity for females to come. It's an open tryout every year," said Albert Roche.

"We just hope there are more that follow Avery's lead."

'No limits'

There is no denying that Avery loves baseball. But like other teenage girls in sports, she said she did consider quitting when she was around 13.

"I just started falling out of love with it."

Still, she stuck with it and her passion eventually returned. Now, for other girls who find themselves in a similar situation, she offers a small reminder:

"There are no limits to what you can do."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News

Coach MacNevin said he fully expects to see more of Avery on the field this season.

"She deserves to be here," he said.

"She'll definitely have her opportunities and she will compete."

Avery has no plans of giving up her spot any time soon and expects to be back again next season.

"My goal is just to do my best. Work as hard as I can, put my work into practice and just be here with the team."