January is a perfect weekend for warm weather. Tracy Blanchard will spend two weekends in the first month of the new year in one of the warmest climates when she heads to the tropical country of Jamaica. But while many take the opportunity to get away from the bite of the cold winter in Lloydminster during the month, for Blanchard, the trip is purely an honourable one.
As a master learning facilitator with Softball Canada, and president of the Lloydminster Competitive Softball Association, Blanchard will head to Jamaica in January in order to teach new head coaches in the sport the Canadian way of coaching. Jamaican softball has selected the Canadian approach to coaching, and Blanchard was selected to go down south and teach the National Coaching Certification Program to high school level coaches.
“I’m very honoured,” said Blanchard. “Softball has been good to me. I’ve made softball like a way of life for myself, starting off coaching my own kids, to then coaching other kids. It’s opened up so many opportunities for me.
Blanchard’s coaching resumé includes current head coaching duties for the Lloydminster Revels U16 softball team, and she previously was the coach for the Team Alberta softball team at the Canada Summer Games.
As a player she has been to Australia twice, so the opportunity to head to Jamaica is another point on a resume in softball that continues to grow.
Jamaica is new to softball and likes Canada’s model of coaching. Umpires from Canada finished up their stint, teaching the first wave of Jamaican umpires about the game and how to call it properly. Now it is time for Blanchard to help facilitate their new coaches.
“It’s really nice to see that Canada as one of the leaders, not just the United States and Japan,” said Blanchard. “It’s nice to see that Canada is looked upon as having a good program in place and we can share it with other countries.”
As being one of the leaders in Canada softball, Blanchard said she is very proud of the honour to help teach an up and coming nation in the sport she has dedicated a large portion of her life to.
As a coach, Blanchard has a few philosophies. First and foremost, she wants to be as far as she can to kids as possible, giving them the best learning experience they can so they get the most out of the sport.
“In any sport, if you don’t have the coaching abilities behind the training techniques, whether it be technical or mental, kids will be behind the eight ball and won’t develop properly,” said Blanchard. “Hopefully if softball gets back into the Olympics, we will be able to create more athletes to be able to compete at that level.
“Hopefully (Jamaica) can see with a little bit of guidance, they can start to produce good athletes.”
Blanchard feels no pressure representing Canada, but is more excited for her trip to Jamaica to teach softball to the new coaches. She has done many training sessions in the past in Canada that doing it in another country will be nothing new to her.
While the program is still new in Jamaica, Blanchard would like to see a day when she could possibly take her Rebels team down south to play in a game, or invite them up to Canada.
“I just hope they get to see Canada’s program work well for them,” said Blanchard.
“If they got to a point that they could either come up here or we could meet them somewhere centrally, that would be awesome.”
Blanchard will head to Jamaica Jan. 9-11, and Jan. 16-18 for training.