Spark­ing an in­ter­est

Quinn hopes 2017 Canada Games helps re­build boys’ pro­gram on the Is­land

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Mark Quinn started with a blank can­vas.

He was coach­ing girls’ soft­ball when it was an­nounced that men’s soft­ball was mak­ing a come­back at the 2017 Canada Games in Win­nipeg, af­ter not be­ing in the mix since the 2005 Games.

“I looked at it as a chance to maybe spark an in­ter­est,” said Quinn.

Boys’ soft­ball was non-ex­is­tent in Prince Ed­ward Is­land when Quinn be­came the head coach of the Canada Games team. The Prince Ed­ward Is­land School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion had a league, but there were no sum­mer leagues.

Quinn and as­sis­tant coach Mike Bishop started work­ing with a core group of ath­letes, most of them com­ing in with a base­ball back­ground. They went to tour­na­ments and got in­volved with the se­nior men’s league the past two years.

“Three years later, we’re al­most a week away from the Canada Games,” said Lo­gan Gal­lant, a short­stop and pitcher for the squad.

Quinn said it has been a fun ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing to­wards the Games, which in­cluded a trip to na­tion­als in 2016.

“I’ve re­ally en­joyed it. This is a fan­tas­tic group of young ath­letes,” he said. “I can’t wait to get there and see all the dif­fer­ent teams com­pete, and ob­vi­ously see how we stand up against the coun­try’s best as well.”

Quinn and Bishop were part of the 1993 Team P.E.I. that won bronze at the Canada Games in Kam­loops, B.C.

A large con­tin­gent of the team was at the re­cent ath­letes rally as Team P.E.I. cel­e­brated the 50th an­niver­sary of the Games by invit­ing the Is­land medal­lists to at­tend the evening.

The smiles on the guys’ faces as they shared sto­ries painted a pic­ture about what sports are all about.

“We’ve al­ready looked at get­ting to­gether again in Au­gust, so there’s plans in the works,” Quinn said.

And there is hope for the fu­ture of the sport.

A team is form­ing to com­pete at the Cana­dian un­der-18 cham­pi­onship this sum­mer in O’Leary. The squad could be the core of Team P.E.I.’s next soft­ball team in four years time.

There are four un­der-12 teams in the O’Leary area, and Quinn hopes to start a group around Char­lot­te­town af­ter the Canada Games. Those kids could be el­i­gi­ble for the Games in eight years time.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Team P.E.I. soft­ball head coach Mark Quinn speaks to his play­ers dur­ing a re­cent prac­tice at Cen­tral Field in Char­lot­te­town.

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