Two young baseball players from Sarnia are taking their game south of the border.
Northern Collegiate grads Nick George and Greg Ross have each landed sports scholarships to U.S. universities.
Ross accepted an offer from Howard College in Texas while George is heading to William Penn University in Iowa.
“It all happened so fast. I’m ecstatic to go. I can’t wait,” said George, 17. “It felt like all those years of hard work had come down to this moment. It took me a week to really process it.”
George and Ross met about six years ago at a Sarnia Braves training camp. The boys went their separate ways and reconnected last year while playing for the Great Lakes Canadians, an elite baseball team out of Dorchester, Ont.
They’ve been pals ever since. While commuting together to practice they’d often talked hopefully about playing university ball one day.
Ross, a pitcher, will study kinesiology in Big Spring, Texas, while working on his dream of playing Major League Baseball.
“My changeup has been coming along really nicely,” said Ross, 18. “The pitching coach from Great Lakes has made changes to my grip and it’s been very good for me lately.”
George tends first and third base but expects to be a utility player when he reports in August. During the pandemic, he’s been sharpening his skills at a variety of field positions.
“Anywhere they can pencil me in is going to be more at bats and plate appearances and time developing as a college athlete,” he said.
“Any inning I can get out there is something I’ll take.”
Ross received his offer and then George waited for months. He was thinking of returning to high school for one more year when the call came.
He then learned Sarnia Braves slugger Jameson Hart had been sending video clips to the coaching staff. The coaches were so impressed they invited him to join.
Ross was ecstatic when he heard his bud had landed a scholarship.
“He was always a power hitter,” he said. “And he’s a great guy.”
When any member of the small and close-knit local baseball community gets a chance to play in the U.S. its cause for celebration, George said.
“Canadian baseball players, we’re already at a disadvantage … we have to compete with all the American players,” he said. “It’s good to see fellow teammates go off to school and do great things because it betters Canadian baseball.
“It lets the world know we’re here.”