Darcy Walushka – Canadian Junior in the News

Reprinted with permission from the Times Colonist

Team Canada juniors come calling on Langford softball star
Brian Drewry, Times Colonist
Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He was barely out of the womb, and Darcy Walushka was already thinking softball.

Or so his mom likes to think.

“She told me when I was four days old I went to my first fastball game so she likes to take credit for my success,” laughed the 18-year-old Walushka, who was recently named one of 17 players who will represent Canada at the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship June 20-29 in Whitehorse.

Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist
Walushka, a Langford resident who’s just finishing up his Grade 12 at Belmont

Secondary, has had plenty of reason to smile when it comes to his softball career in recent years. The upcoming trip to the world juniors is just the ultimate way to cap off an impressive year that has seen him be part of a national midget championship last season with his club team, the Sooke Smoke.

“It has been quite a year, that’s for sure,” said Walushka, who is just one of two B.C. players on the Canadian roster. Jessin Potskin of Prince George is the other.

“I’ve just been real fortunate to play on a great team which really helped me get noticed.”

The modest Walushka was named a tournament all-star at last year’s midget nationals in Saskatoon where the Smoke beat the defending champion FSIN Chiefs in the championship game. Walushka played his usual stellar defence in centre field, swung a hot bat and used his blazing speed on the base paths to generate even more offence for the Smoke.

That all-around play caught the attention of national junior team coaches and earned him a tryout for the Canadian squad last month in Clearwater, Fla. After a week in Florida, Walushka returned to Victoria, where his Smoke play in the Macdonald Park Men’s Fastball League. And then the call came.

“The head coach [Tom Doucette] called and told me I had made the team so it was pretty exciting,” added Walushka.

Making it even more special for Walushka, is the fact this will be the one and only shot at world junior title for most of the Canadian team.

“The tournament is only held every three years so in three years we won’t be junior any more so that, and the fact we get to play it in Canada in front of our home crowd makes us all very excited about the whole thing.”

Walushka got a sneak peak at the calibre of play expected at the world juniors on Sunday when the Smoke faced the New Zealand under-19 team in an exhibition. The New Zealanders won 7-6 and Walushka expects the Kiwis and Australians to be the teams to beat in Whitehorse.

“Australia is the defending champs and New Zealand is always strong in softball so it won’t be easy for us.”

After saying goodbye to his Smoke teammates Sunday night, Walushka headed to Vancouver yesterday where he’ll meet up with the rest of Team Canada for an eight-day pre-worlds training camp. They’ll play eight games against senior B teams before heading to Whitehorse on the 19th.

Canada opens play at the world juniors June 20 against the Czech Republic. Argentina, South Africa, Botswana, Venezuela, Mexico, Denmark, Japan and the U.S. round out the field for the tournament, which wraps up with the gold-medal game on June 29.

After the world juniors, Walushka will come back to the Island and rejoin the Smoke as the team gears up to head to Brantford, Ont., Aug. 3-10 to defend their title at the national midget championship.

“I’m going to be spending a lot of time at the ball park,” added Walushka. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just love to play ball.”

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008

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