by Ryan McCracken – December 26, 2015
Christmas may have come and gone, but Tory Nelson and Felix Miller will be sharing the spirit of giving for months to come.
The pair of 13-year-old baseball players were recently named to Team Canada for the Canada Cuba Goodwill Tour, April 8-15, and Nelson says it’s sure to be a rewarding experience on and off the diamond.
“It means a lot, not just for baseball, but helping out others,” said Nelson who attends Notre Dame Academy alongside Miller. “It’s an honour to be able to represent Canada.”
“Baseball is everything to me. I’ve played for six years now and it’s all I can think about,” added Miller, who shares positions with Nelson as a catcher and middle infielder. “It’s a great opportunity to play a higher level of baseball and improve my skills.”
The tour features a number of games across the nation of Cuba, but it’s so much more than just baseball. An equal portion of the excursion will be focused on helping the children of Cuba get ahead both in the game and in the classroom.
“We stop at communities along our travels and we basically open up a hockey bag and let the kids of the community take what they want,” said Tory’s mother, Sue. “We also are trying to get donations for school supplies because we’ll also be doing some school visits to donate supplies to the kids there.”
Team Canada will feature players aged 15 and under from across Alberta and B.C. While Tory and Felix are among the youngest to crack the squad, and they anticipate their time on the field will be limited as a result, Miller says he’s just excited to be a part of the team and lend a hand to those less fortunate.
“When my dad first told me about it I was really just excited to help kids in Cuba to get school supplies and help them get baseball equipment,” he said, adding he’s looking forward to a new look at baseball too. “To go travel all the way to Cuba and play some outstanding baseball with some outstanding players, it’s just amazing.”
“I’m curious what it’s going to be like giving school supplies and baseball supplies to kids,” added Tory. “We’re planning on bringing stuff to everyone and hoping to get smiles on kids faces.”
But the unforgettable moments don’t stop there, as three time World Series Champion and former Toronto Blue Jay Devon White will be on hand as ambassador of the tour, closing out the week with a training camp alongside a handful of former Cuban baseball players.
“It’s definitely an opportunity to teach them some great baseball and see a different style of training and maybe some kids who are outstanding ball players, but I think ultimately it’s a goodwill mission,” said Miller’s father, Jason. “I think the kids will get a lot out of it and have memories to cherish for a long time.”
Sue added the trip should be an eye-opening experience for the young men of Team Canada as well, as they’ll see a different perspective of the passion for baseball.
“We’ve been told that they play with pillowcases for bases or home plate and their baseball gloves are often missing fingers,” she said. “To be able to go at this age and give something and expect nothing in return, I think that feeling will be overwhelming for them.”
Tory and Felix will be drumming up donations over the next few months in anticipation of the tournament, searching for new and used baseball equipment and school supplies. To find out how to donate to the Canada Cuba Goodwill Tour, contact Sue Nelson at (403) 977 4528.