Top-notch instructors unite at Diamond Pursuit Academy

Some of the Valley’s best and most experienced ballplayers are getting together to pass their substantial knowledge on to a new crop.

Kevin Rothbauer Citizen

Some of the Cowichan Valley’s best and most experienced ballplayers are getting together to pass their substantial knowledge on to a new crop of athletes.

Dan Whiteford, Marty Steen and Korrey Gareau are among the instructors behind Diamond Pursuit Academy, which is offering high-level instruction in baseball and softball.

“We had kind of talked about it the last little while,” Whiteford said. “There isn’t a lot of extra instruction if people want it for baseball or softball.”

Whiteford has watched his niece rise through the ranks in softball, and his son has recently taken up baseball. Until now, he observed, they would have to go to Victoria or beyond for additional instruction.

“All three of us have pretty much lived in the Valley all our lives, and we wanted to give back,” Whiteford said. “This is what we can offer to the kids coming up, and coaches.”

Whiteford and Steen are longtime friends with plenty of experience in both sports.

“We both grew up in the Valley playing ball,” Whiteford said. “We played here until there was no more ball to play, then we crossed over to fastball.”

They went on to play senior A fastpitch in Victoria, and both had a cup of coffee with the national men’s team. Whiteford continued to play at the highest levels, with teams in Vancouver, Portland and Wisconsin. Steen took a bit of time off, then played in the U.S. himself.

Gareau’s resumé is similar, and includes a senior men’s world championship.

“When he played, he was one of the top two, if not the best, at pitching fastball,” Whiteford said.

Other softball instructors include Rick Smith, who grew up in Victoria but has called the Valley home for many years, and has played senior A and for the national team, winning a gold medal at the Pan Am Games in 2003 on his way to induction in the Softball BC Hall of Fame; and Nanaimo’s Blake Hunter, who also has lots of senior A experience and is currently on the national team’s 40-man roster.

Although the bulk of the coaches’ experience comes from softball, a lot of the skills transfer over to baseball as well.

“For the most part, softball and baseball are not that different,” Whiteford said. “For infielders or outfielders, it’s basically the same. Even hitting is mostly the same. There really isn’t a huge difference between the two.”

Whiteford and Steen handle infield instruction, while Gareau and Smith deal with softball pitching. That’s where the major difference in the two sports comes into play, and that’s why Diamond Pursuit has Darren Kolk in the stable of instructors.

“He’s our go-to guy for baseball pitching,” Whiteford said. “That was the one part we had to go get help for.”

Kolk grew up in the Cowichan Valley and went on to Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho. He was also a pitcher and outfielder for the junior national team and was named that team’s MVP in 2009. In 2013, he played in the West Coast League all-star game.

Diamond Pursuit has already run several clinics for Ladysmith baseball, and also does private and semi-private lessons, as well as running practices for teams. They have attracted plenty of interest within the Valley and beyond, with players coming over from Saltspring Island to train.

Visit diamondpursuitacademy.com for more information, or find Diamond Pursuit Academy on Facebook, call Dan Whiteford at 250-709-3906, or email diamondpursuitacademy@gmail.com

 

 

Just Posted

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
COVID vaccine clinic coming to Lake Cowichan as area numbers lag

Clinic will operate at arena starting June 23

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New Indigenous treatment centre to be built near Duncan

Centre will help survivors of residential schools

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake last Saturday, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Lady of the Lake returns to Lake Cowichan

Mariah Segee takes the crown in first pageant since 2018

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Most Read