Sparking an interest
Quinn hopes 2017 Canada Games helps rebuild boys’ program on the Island
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.
Team P.E.I. softball head coach Mark Quinn speaks to his players during a recent practice at Central Field in Charlottetown.