The B.C. Premier Baseball League season opens this weekend, and there’s one player looking to make a major impact both on and off the field for the Whalley Chiefs.
Marika Lyszczyk has a dual role with the club, acting as both pitcher and catcher, two of the toughest positions in the game. But it’s not the hardest one she’s played. That goes to being a female in a male dominated sport.
"It's always hard at the start, joining a new team, because they're always skeptical coming into it,” Marika told CTV News about her first season with the Chiefs. “But just being able to prove I earned my position there really helped it."
Her head coach, Steve Chatzispiros, agrees, saying Marika never let it affect her play.
"It’s an old boys club and a lot of the time you will hear negative comments. I'm sure she had to deal with a lot growing up, and it's made her skin thicker,” Chatzispiros said.
Fast forward five years, and Marika says her teammates are now “like brothers” and “super encouraging.”
It’s exactly the support she needs as she works to grows her game and get noticed. Last month, the 18-year-old received an invite of a lifetime to the inaugural MLB GRIT camp at Globe Life Park – home of the Texas Rangers. Marika was one of 60 girls brought in from around the world to develop their game and learn from the pros.
"It was just an unreal experience being able to step on the field. And after that, we got 1-1 training with (U.S.) National Team members and they taught us lots of stuff and worked on the little parts of our game,” Marika said.
The teen said she’d love to be one of the first women to play in the MLB, but right now has her sights set on something a little closer to home.
"I want to be the first girl to catch in collegiate baseball,” Marika said. “It's going to be hard and there’s going to be a lot more noes than yesses, but I’ll be prepared for that.”
It’s not the only thing Marika has on her plate. She’s also heavily involved in Team B.C. and Team Canada, and after the last few months she’s had, she as enthusiastic as ever to share the game she loves.
“I want to be a person that can break though that glass and show people it's ok, that girls can do it too."