Volleyball will simply have to hold Josh Medeiros over until the baseball season starts.
The Neil McNeil high school student and multi-sport athlete has taken his talents to the hard court this fall as he tries to help his quad-A team make another trip to OFSAA.
So far, the results have been good through exhibition play. But Medeiros knows his expectations must be tempered by the fact his squad lost some of its top players from a season ago.
“Last year we had a couple of club players,” Medeiros said. “It’s always hard when a team goes all the way to OFSAA like we did last year and then it splits up.
“We have to bring in new people and create a new team, and really work well together for another season.”
With the provincial championships only a month away, the newly revamped club doesn’t have much time to gel, but having a talented athlete like Medeiros certainly helps.
Although it’s volleyball for the moment, Medeiros is anxious for the spring to start so he can shift over to the baseball diamond and put his glove back on.
The 18-year old student, who plays second base and pitches occasionally, actually started as a catcher, but left the mask behind when his coach encouraged him to make a change.
“My coach always told me I was lazy more than anything,” Medeiros said. “I was one of the top catchers in Toronto, but it really wasn’t me sitting behind the plate all the time.”
It’s not surprising then that the multi-tool youngster emulates the hitting approach of Minnesota Twin star Joe Mauer, one of the top hitting catchers in the MLB. His horizontal swing is similar to the former American League MVP.
“I hit for pure contact,” Medeiros said. “If I got up to the plate five times a game, I’ll hit the ball four out of those five times and take a walk the other time. I very rarely strike out.”
But not only is Medeiros a good hitter, he is a team player.
“Josh has played varsity with us for four years, and is undoubtedly a central component of the team,” said his school baseball coach, Peter Conway. “He’s willing to play a variety of positions, but his most important role on the team came last year, when he went undefeated in six starts as a pitcher, including one no-hit performance.”
Next season, however, Neil McNeil will be playing in Division II, trying to have a good year in the hopes of moving back up to Division I in time for 2013. Only Division I teams can qualify for OFSAA.
“Being in Division II gives us more games,” Medeiros said. “So the coaches ask each other if they want more games, or to play in Division I and have less games.
“This year, they want us to play more games to get more fundamentals down.”
Medeiros feels it’s his teammates who will benefit from playing the extra games rather than himself, since he’s played ball as a youngster.
“It was just a passion I fell in love with at the beginning,” Medeiros said. “I just like going out with the guys and throwing the ball around.”
And while it is a love for the game that got him into the sport, the social aspect also keeps him coming back for more.
“You build that type of brotherhood where you bring problems from home and you can just talk about it and stuff,” Medeiros said. “You just talk and have that guy time where you wouldn’t anywhere else.”
It’s one of the reasons he has stuck to baseball instead of soccer, which many have tried to get him more involved in given his personal background.
“I’m Portuguese and I get people asking all the time why I play baseball,” Medeiros said. “But it’s my sport and I’m good at it.”
Though confident in his abilities, Medeiros is concerned with his size, especially when he compares himself to his competition in the United States.
“Scouts look at things like size and strength,” he said. “And I don’t know what it is, but kids in the States are so much more built than Canadians.”
Medeiros has been hitting the gym as of late in an effort to bulk up, as he hopes to catch the scouts’s eyes and earn a full scholarship to an American college.
“I really want to go straight to the States and play baseball there,” Medeiros said. “I’m most definitely going there next September.”
Of course, another fall filled up with sports is nothing out of the ordinary for him.
“I’ve been playing sports all my life,” Medeiros said.
No matter what awaits Medeiros beyond his playing days, his coach knows he’ll find his calling.
“Whatever career he does pursue, I am sure he will do it well with confidence and hard work,” said Conway. “His talent and desire to win will be missed.”