Belmont teacher bats to bronze medal with Team Canada

World championship medal in Prague fuels competitive spirit

Rick Stiebel

News staff

Winning a bronze medal has only fueled Kris Walushka’s determination to bring home the gold.

Walushka returned recently from Prague, where he played in the World Softball Championship June 13 to 23 on a Team Canada squad that finished with a record of nine wins and one loss. The team lost to Argentina by a score of 7-0 in the final before bouncing back with a win in the bronze medal game.

“It was really tough to get up for the bronze medal game after coming so close to winning gold,” said Walushka, who teaches physical education and runs the baseball and softball academies at Belmont Secondary School, where he has worked since it opened. “Our goal was to win the gold. Our rallying cry was we didn’t want to come home without a medal.”

That helped spur the team to a 2-1 hard-fought victory over New Zealand, a team that’s been Canada’s arch rival for many years, Waluska noted.

“I’m already thinking ahead to the worlds in New Zealand in February in 2021,” added Waluska, who has competed for Team Canada three times in the past five years. “I’m going to spend the next year and a half working on improving my game. I’m not the youngest guy on the team, so I have to keep working hard to stay at the same level.”

READ ALSO: Sooke standout named to national team

Walushka played shortstop, second base and outfield during the tournament. “I think the key to my success is that I can move around and play a lot of positions.”

Walushka, 35, has been playing baseball since he was five. “I was carrying a bat around as soon as I could walk,” he noted. “It’s just always been a strong connection.”

Having his wife, Anna, his daughter, Tenley, 15 months, and Landon, five months, as well as his mother and father-in-law at the tournament made the trip to Prague an unforgettable experience. “Having them there to support me was huge.”

It was the second time Walushka has been to Prague, who visited the city before he spent time teaching overseas. “It’s an extremely beautiful city and they did an amazing job of hosting the tournament,” he said. “The best diamonds I have ever played on.”

This year’s team, which ranged in age from 23 to 43, included two other players from Vancouver Island, Sooke resident Scott Lieph and Blake Hunter from Nanaimo. All three play for the Sooke Loggers club team, which finished second in the Canadian nationals in 2018.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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