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SOFTBALL SISTERS JADE AND TYLA LEE PLAYING TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME
(Winnipeg, MB) Sisters Jade and Tyla Lee of Red Deer are playing softball for Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.
A special experience in itself, what makes these Games even more memorable is the fact that the pair are teammates for the first time. Despite having played the game for 10 years, the sisters were always on separate teams because of their age difference. That was until Softball Alberta selected them both to represent their province at the 50th Canada Summer Games.
In the crowd watching the girls’ every move are mother Cara and step-father Kelsey, as well as grandparents Sandy and Luke, who never miss a game.
Kelsey says he is proud to see them together for the first time as the girls get ready to depart for the United States to play college softball. “It’s great to see the girls playing together and share the experience of playing together in this tournament. They are both ready to go off to different schools in the United States, so to end this summer on this note is quite nice for them.”
At 19 years-old, Jade is the eldest of the two wearing Alberta blue and white in Winnipeg. She recently played for Iowa Western Community College and was named a two-time Academic All-Region XI 1st Team student-athlete, two-time All-Region First Team and Region XI Defensive Player of the Year. Jade was part of the winning team of the latest U21 Provincial Championships.
“It’s really special to play with her for the first time. I feel very comfortable. She’s someone I like to play with as we play quite alike,” said Jade.
Speaking of her sister’s effect on her game, Jade sees benefits on playing with her. “We influence each other. Tyla pushes me to be better, and I push her. It’s a nice little competition, especially being on the same team now, fighting for the same position,” she added.
The two girls started their respective careers as catchers, just like her grandfather and mother. “When you are younger you play every position, and catcher is where we felt comfortable,” said Tyla. Jade added: “I think both of us like to be leaders, the quarterback of the field seeing everything in front of us. This is probably why it was so easy for us to transition to shortstop as captain of the infield.”
Tyla is the youngest player on the Alberta softball team and hopes to learn from her teammates and grow as an athlete. “I’ve always looked up to her [Jade] as a player, so it’s definitely good to play alongside her. It’s kind of different because we’ve been playing the same position.”
Just like Jade, Tyla, 17, has also been involved in softball for a decade. A provincial champion in the U18 category, she currently plays second base for the Lloydminster Liners. Tyla will attend school this fall to play with the Reivers at Iowa Western Community College, following the trail blazed by her sister.
The girl’s grandfather is quick to pick out the differences between the two. “Jade is very outgoing, very positive, a good leader vocally. She is a fearless defender. Tyla definitely plays a different style. She’s the unsung hero with nerves of steel. She is very quiet, very focused. Technically, she’s the hitter,” explains Luke.
The two girls were participants in the Alberta Sport Development Center – Central located at Red Deer College. Their mother says the centre was a critical tool. “The ASDC has played a very important role in the girls’ success,” says Cara.
The two young ladies come from a generation of softball players. Their grandfather played the game, while Cara continued the tradition.
“We almost didn’t have a choice,” laughs Jade, talking about keeping the generational trend alive. “We were introduced to the ball when we were very little, years before we started playing. They [grandparents] come to watch all our games and tell us what we are doing wrong. More critics, but it helps!”
Alberta will play a total of nine games as part of the softball round robin at the John Blumberg Softball Complex with the gold medal to be contested Sunday morning.
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