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‘A total game changer’: Kentville Wildcats baseball player making a big difference on the field

Pitcher, shortstop and occasional centre fielder - Codey Shrider does a little bit of everything on the field for the Kentville Senior Wildcats
Pitcher, shortstop and occasional centre fielder - Codey Shrider does a little bit of everything on the field for the Kentville Senior Wildcats - Chris Saulnier

KENTVILLE, NS - Pitcher, shortstop and occasional centre fielder - Codey Shrider does a little bit of everything on the field for the Kentville Senior Wildcats in a sport he says he’ll never quit playing.

The 26-year-old Dartmouth native began playing baseball when he was only four years old. Barely big enough to hold a bat, his first team was Dartmouth North Central, and he says it was his parents that really got him into the sport.

“Both my parents played softball when I was a kid, so I was always around the ball field, and picked up a love for it pretty fast,” says Shrider.

He started with house league then moved into triple A and played in Dartmouth up until he started playing at the junior level.

In his senior year of high school, Shrider earned the opportunity to move to Edmonton, Alberta and attend the St. Francis Xavier High School Baseball Academy, where he got to compete against schools like the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and won the award for the most outstanding pitcher.

“The opportunity came from playing with the U Selects, playing Canada Cup Tournaments,” says Shrider. “I got noticed there and then got a phone call to go out west in my Grade 12 year of high school.”

Shrider says that while the experience really helped him develop as a player, and is something he’s grateful to had been able to take part in, the one down side was having to leave his family and friends.

“It kind of sucked to leave everyone I grew up with,” says Shrider. “And then you know, graduating with people that you didn’t grow up with and might not ever see again, it was a drawback, but still an amazing experience nonetheless.”

Off to California

Codey Shrider
Codey Shrider

After graduating from St. Francis Xavier in 2010, another exciting opportunity arose – moving again the following year, this time to California to attend Allan Hancock Junior College. There, Shrider studied recreation management and played as a starting pitcher for the school’s baseball team, the Bulldogs.

In his first year at Allan Hancock, Shrider pitched five wins and had one save for the Bulldogs, was an all-conference honorable mention, and was named a SoCal pre-season all-American.

“It was a pretty awesome experience, you know, getting to go out there and play, it was really an unbelievable experience,” says Shrider. “We played every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; playing down in L.A. all the time, it was a pretty good time.”

After his two years were up at Allan Hancock, Shrider decided it was time to come home and keep playing baseball in Nova Scotia.

In the summer of 2011, Shrider played with Tri-County for his first year of junior. At that time, the team was affiliated with Kentville, which is how he made his way to playing for the Wildcats and has been there ever since.

Jason Pleasant-Sampson, current acting player coach for the Kentville Senior Wildcats, has been playing alongside Shrider for many years, and has been, and still is, happy to be able to call him a teammate.

“Codey Shrider is one of those diamond in the rough, five-tool baseball players that can pretty much do anything needed of him. For the non-baseball folks, that means he has speed, great fielding ability, excellent arm strength, hits for average and hits with power,” says Pleasant-Sampson.

“He’s one of those guys everybody wants on their team or hates to play against if you can’t have him. A total game changer all by himself at times.”

Codey Shrider, #35, at bat for the Kentville Wildcats.
Codey Shrider, #35, at bat for the Kentville Wildcats.

Making friends on the field

Shrider says that, throughout his years of playing baseball in different areas, and for different teams, one of the biggest aspects he’s enjoyed has been the great friendships the sport has allowed him to make along the way.

“I’m fortunate to have had so many opportunities to play with the different teams I’ve played with. I’ve made baseball friends form all around now. Every team we’re out here playing against right now, I have friends on,” says Shrider, referring to the teams he plays against while with the Kentville Wildcats.

“Friends that I’ve either played ball with or grown up with.”

During his time spent playing in California, Shrider says that, while staying in a ‘Baseball House’ with some of his teammates, he made great friendships that last to this day.

“We had two guys from Germany, two guys from Sweden, three guys from Vegas,” says Shrider. “We’ve all kind of split up to different places, but we still make sure we keep in touch.”

Shrider adds that when World Junior Hockey comes on TV, he doesn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to trash talk his buddies from Sweden.

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Codey Shrider crosses home plate after hitting a home run at the July 18 game against Halifax.
Codey Shrider crosses home plate after hitting a home run at the July 18 game against Halifax.

 

‘Passing down the knowledge’

Along with his passion for playing the game of baseball, Shrider has enjoyed taking part in the coaching aspect of the game over the years.

“When I was still playing ball for school, when I’d come home for the summers, I’d do some coaching, help with some camps and stuff, that kind of stuff,” says Shrider. “I helped coach the Dartmouth teams coming through, North End Dartmouth, all the Dartmouth Triple A teams, and my old man coached for Dartmouth for quite a while, so when I was finished school, I was helping with all that.”

Shrider adds that, for him, it’s about giving back and passing down his knowledge.

“I’m a real believer in passing down the knowledge,” says Shrider. “And I really just like giving back.”

Shrider adds that what he’s most enjoyed about taking part in coaching over the years has been working with the kids that are really interested in the sport and want to learn and become better.

“There’s always the certain kids that are there that really want to learn, and I enjoy working with them, spending time to help them get better,” says Shrider. “It’s pretty easy when you’re around a bunch of good kids, typically if they’ve played a little bit already for fun or come out to watch the games, then they’re really eager to learn or pick things up. A lot of the time, it’s the ones you see around the park that come out to the games every night.”

Did you know?

Codey Shrider has an average of .450, and so far on the season, has hit 27, had two home runs, two pitching wins, an ERA of 1.59, pitched two complete games, and has hit six doubles and one triple, leading the Wildcats or at the top of the standings for the league in many categories.

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