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Samantha Magalas: jack of all trades

OTTAWA – Samantha Magalas has done it all in baseball circles. The Burlington, Ontario native has been a member of the Women’s National Team since the beginning in 2004. She has earned three World Cup medals (silver and two bronze) and will be looking to complete the collection with gold at the upcoming 2010 Women’s Baseball World Cup.

“That’s definitely the goal,” says the 27-year-old first baseman. “I’m definitely more toward the end of my career now, so finishing off with a gold medal would be the ultimate conclusion.”

But Magalas, along with other Team Canada members who have been there since the beginning are keeping an eye on the 2012 Women’s World Cup which will be held in Edmonton. For some, it may be a fitting end to their playing career.

“Edmonton is where it began and that was such a great experience. I’ve spoken with some of the girls and we’ve been discussing how great it would be to win gold on home soil and end our careers at home.”

But being a member of Canada’s women’s baseball team is not her only accomplishment on the field. She was a member of the York University Varsity Baseball Team in 2004 and 2005, being the only female on the team and in the league. She has captured three National Championships with Team Ontario and was named the City of Burlington’s Athlete of the Year in 2002 and again in 2004.

Her accomplishments off the field are just as impressive. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from York University in 2005, she was the General Manager of the Frozen Ropes Baseball and Softball Training Centre from 2006 to 2009, she is a private baseball instructor and she is currently enrolled at Conestoga College earning her diploma in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

Her off-field endeavours, along with battling nagging injuries have made Magalas contemplate her career after baseball. Magalas was only able to appear in two game at the most recent Women’s World Cup in 2008 due to injury. Those factors have made her contemplate entering the realm of coaching full-time.

Magalas is a Provincial Coach Certified under the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). She got some excellent in game training as a coach when she recently joined Women’s National Team Manager André Lachance and a group of 30 bantam aged girls to Cuba for an exhibition series against the Cuban Women’s National Team.

She was excited to join the coaching staff for the trip, but when it was mentioned that the camp would be in Cuba, some anxiety crept in thanks to a few bad memories.

“I was in Cuba in 2005 with the National Team and we got caught in a hurricane,” explains Magalas. “So when André told me we were going to Cuba I was a little uneasy about it at first because that’s all I remember from my one and only time in that country.”

“This time around the trip was great. Being able to experience all the culture and way of life that Cuba has to offer was amazing.”

On the baseball side of things, the trip also provided a glimpse into the future for the Women’s National Team. She hopes the experience these girls gained there will help them along when they could possibly become members of the Women’s National Team.

“There are definitely some talented young girls coming up across the country. The future of girls’ baseball right now in Canada is looking very bright.”

“I know when I first started with the National Team, I was very nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. With these girls they were able to get an idea of what it’s like to be on the road and work in the system of the coaching staff, so if they make it to the National Team they’ll be more prepared for what’s to come.”

As manager André Lachance was evaluating the talent in Cuba for the future of his team, he may found the future of his coaching staff.

“I knew Samantha as an individual and as an athlete but I discovered Samantha the coach while in Cuba,” says Lachance. “She has the tools to become successful as a coach and you could tell the young girls were looking up to her during our trip.”

Her passion and commitment is why Baseball Canada nominated her and was granted a spot for the Women in Coaching National Coach Workshop conducted by the Coaching Association of Canada. 

The workshop is from March 26-28 in Jackson’s Point, Ontario and Magalas is eager to gain more knowledge.

“I’m very honoured to be selected and I’m honoured that Baseball Canada nominated me for the workshop. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I can’t wait to share ideas with other coaches.”

There is a bright future for girls baseball in Canada, but it cannot be sustained without the continued support of Baseball Canada and its programs to help build the game for the girls. This is part of the reason Magalas has entered coaching, to help keep the girl’s game moving forward.

“The girl’s game is growing, but we need more at the grass roots level. We need more at the coaching level. For me, that’s why I went to Cuba and have considered coaching. Anything I can do to give back and give these girls the same experiences that I’ve had and allow them to move forward in the game is what I want to do.”

Baseball has definitely opened a lot of doors for this young woman. The memories and friendships she has formed over the years have been a constant source of pride.

“Traveling to all these different countries and experiencing the all these different cultures, and being able to share that and all the on-field moments with these wonderful friends from all across Canada that I’ve made is something that I’ll cherish forever.”