Opportune. Timely. Being in the right place at the right time. Anyway you want to define it, for Tyler McWillie, it couldn’t have worked out better.
With his Western Canadian Baseball League career over, the former Sylvan Lake Gull was looking for an opportunity to continue his other career, teaching. Oh yeah, and find a place to call home.
So how about combining baseball with moulding young minds. Coaching and teaching? Why not! And while your at it, why not stick around Central Alberta where he has spent the past three summers.
“I’m running the St. Thomas Academy for grade six and nine and helping with the fall ball (St. Josephs Falcons) on the weekends. It’s kind of my dream job,” said the infielder/pitcher from Watrous, Saskatchewan.
McWillie was quick to admit his position on a team in uber-competitive baseball is likely finished. He does have options to keep playing baseball which include hitting the diamond next season with the AAA Red Deer Riggers of the Sunburst League.
“I’m not losing interest but I’m just ready to take a step back and find out there’s more to life because that’s(baseball) been surrounding my life,” he said.
This is his first taste of coaching and naturally there’s some trepidation along with mixed expectations of what to expect.
His boss the past few years with the Sylvan Lake Gulls has been former Rigger and current St. Joseph Baseball Academy instructor Jason Chatwood. McWillie says there have been days when he would look at his coach and think he needs to relax a bit, stop being so intense.
“And now as a coach, you’re looking at the kids and it’s like, come on! Let’s get going! Let’s get into it.” The shoe is on the other foot now.
Scott Murray, director at St. Joseph Ball Academy is pleased with the addition of McWillie to the staff.
“It’s nice to have someone with that background for our middle school program,” he said. “I watched him play with the Gulls and he was one of the main leaders on the Gulls. He has that personality, takes charge and he will be really good at the academy.”
McWillie says his time with the Gulls has laid the groundwork for the coaching aspect of his world. Many of his players/students know him from his playing time at Sylvan Lake. Add to it all that experience of being down south playing college baseball, it is valuable intel for the players at St. Joseph.
“I was in college recently, I can talk about what it’s like,” he explained. “A lot of the grade 11 and grade 12 kids like to hear that kind of stuff. They want my routines.”
He’s aware he is dealing with student athletes and the student comes first naturally, but he is ready to pass along any baseball insight. Right after the math and science homework is done.
“There are a lot of good players, but they could use that extra knowledge and that’s what I want to be for them.”
He says he will always cherish the memories of his time with the Gulls and how the fans embraced him. His only regret is not winning a WCBL title with this team.
“I will definitely be in the stands, I’m not giving up on them, we’re going to win it one year so I will be there supporting. I will be out with the guys, hanging out. I’m not too old for that stuff yet.”
But the focus of course is on his young players and students. It seems they are in good hands.