The Ottawa-Nepean Canadians have started strong across all divisions. How have they done it?
The Ottawa-Nepean Canadians have begun the 2021 PBLO season with a 33-11 record between their four teams — 14U, 15U, 16U, and 18U — and have shown that they are a contending powerhouse no matter the age group. Between the coaching staff, player dedication, and a continuing drive for success, the Canadians believe that this start is simply the beginning of a fantastic season and beyond.
Beginning in 1970, the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Baseball Club has been one of the leaders for elite baseball at the youth level. A not-for-profit and run entirely by volunteers, the management cares deeply about the development of their players and not by filling their pockets. “The entire Board is made up of people whose sons have played for ONC,” Shail Paliwal, President of the ONC, stated. Assuming the role in October of 2020, this is his first full season as acting President of the club.
One of the biggest challenges in developing youth baseball is generating improvement at all ages and not at just the highest ranks. Thankfully, the ONC is well staffed with knowledgeable and experienced management. “Four of us on the Board each have decades of head coaching experience in baseball and in other competitive youth sports,” Paliwal described. “Our coaches and instructors are a very tight-knit group. They'll often stay to help out with other teams' practices within the Club.”
The Canadians are leading the way in the combined record for all teams, leading the 15U and 16U divisions and currently the runner-up in the 18U division. They are leading in run differential with the slugging 16U Canadians averaging more than 11 runs per game. ”We are three weeks into the 2021 PBLO season and overall we're very happy with our start. It's still early but this is confirmation that our offseason training was on track to help our players and coaches succeed in gameplay.” Paliwal said when discussing his clubs’ play through the beginning of the season.
The ONC is not content with riding off of the coattails of this hot start. “We've also identified several areas for improvement with our players and coaches,” Paliwal said. “Our player
development and baseball quality people take these observations and review what we've seen from the stands, with our coaches and players. Again, we're happy with the way things have gone so far, but there is always room for improvement.”
Like all teams, the Canadians had a difficult road in regards to training with COVID regulations disrupting the run-up to the regular season and its eventual delay. “Running a baseball program during the pandemic has been a challenge. Our Board and Head Coaches have gone through several iterations of plans, only to scrap one and reset as the health risks from the pandemic have gotten better or worse,” Paliwal explained. However, he commended his players and coaches for their flexibility through the changes of the last 18 months, saying that “they made the best of it and remained enthusiastic.”
As President of the ONC, Paliwal had worries about whether there would be a season at all: “Many people didn't think we'd have competitive games in 2021, but we remained optimistic and are glad the PBLO season is underway.” As the season progresses, teams will surely be looking at the Canadians with eagle-eyes, looking to strike with their best pitchers and players as they wish to climb up the ranks. The road ahead will not be easy and teams won’t roll over because they see the standings — in fact, it’s probably the opposite reaction. “We truly are a club and every rostered player, coach and instructor is part of that family,” Paliwal said, advocating for his club. “Our two primary social media hashtags are #WeAreONC and #ONCFamily by design and by our actions.”