The 2022 Canada Summer Games kick off this week, and leading the charge for the Manitobans on the mound, is Brady Moxham. The Oakville native played the sport for over a decade, including a few years where he made a Team Manitoba squad but now he finds himself coaching at that level for the first time. The pitching coach outlines how he got the position.
"About two years ago, I was playing in the senior nationals with the head coach, at the time, for this team. We just got to talking, and he asked if I wanted to come to be the pitching coach, and I said, 'Absolutely,'" Moxham explains. "I've always wanted to come back and coach this team, and when given the opportunity, it was a no-brainer for me."
Moxham says he coached here and there when he was in college but notes this is definitely the biggest stage he will have ever coached on. He adds his favourite aspect to this point has been being able to put his baseball IQ to good use.
"The part I love most about it is being able to pass along the knowledge from my experiences and give it to those younger players early enough where they can use it going into next season," Moxham continues. "I really enjoy the kids we have. They're all very coachable and are amazing athletes. We've had a really successful season so far, getting to the semi-finals of the Gopher Classic, which is a 100-team tournament in Minnesota."
The pitching coach says this core group has been working together for almost a year through a number of tryouts and tournaments as the coaches had to cut the roster down from 60 to 20. During the process, the team was able to build up some chemistry on and off the field.
"I think the way we set it up this year is going to really give us some success going forward, and coming off a big performance in Minnesota, the guys really came together. We played eight games down there, and the guys were pretty jacked about it the whole time," says Moxham. "I think the time we've had together so far has been great."
Moxham says he played in the Canada Summer Games as a 16-year-old and adds it was one of his best experiences on the diamond. He describes the main thing he learned at that event, which he is now sharing with this group.
"Don't take anything for granted is my biggest thing. At a young age like this, it's important not to look too far ahead into the future and enjoy the game you're playing today. Don't think about playing the next day because sometimes, you get hurt or your career ends. Anything can happen," Moxham continues. "Play every game like it's your last and just enjoy being out there. That's the biggest thing. If you're having fun, you're going to play well."
The Oakville product notes there's much more to worry about on the coaching side of things.
"As a player, the only thing you're concerned with is going out and playing. As a coach, it's a lot different. There a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff I have to go through as a coach," Moxham explains. "It's been a hectic summer getting ready for this tournament. There's a ton of courses we have to take, there's training, and we have to make cuts, which is the worst part of the job but it has to be done. It's been busy but it's been really enjoyable, and we're looking forward to heading out there."
When it comes to the tournament itself, Moxham explains all the teams are split into two groups for the round-robin.
"There's Pool A and Pool B. Pool A is usually the bigger provinces, and then Pool B is us, the Maritimes provinces, Quebec, and Alberta is in our pool this year," says Moxham. "In Pool B, we get to take two kids outside the 18U restriction as a bit of an equalizer since a lot of the teams don't have quite the population of the other provinces. You have to be first or second in your pool to make the playoffs. It's a tough road, I think you have to win about seven games to get to the finals."
The coach notes Team Manitoba's first game is set for day one of the event, August 6, with a doubleheader slated for the seventh. Moxham says the team is fired up and ready to give their best effort all week.