It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind. That’s not a passing fancy, as the sport has been a key part of his life since the age of 3. Dedication to it has earned home a scholarship to Davenport University in Michigan.
For the last few years, Jacklin has been an outfielder with the London-based Great Lake Canadians program, an elite squad that has provided him with plenty of training … and exposure to U.S. Scouts.
“We play in a lot of tournaments in the States,” said Jacklin, noting it was at one such outing last fall that he caught Davenport’s eye. “I guess they liked what they saw.”
With the scholarship in hand, he’ll be heading off to Grand Rapids in September. For now, he’ll continue with his training in preparation for his NCAA baseball experience.
Collegiate ball is the next stage in a passion that started early. His first organized games came courtesy of South Woolwich Minor Baseball, and by the time he was in Grade 2 he’d made the jump to the more expansive Waterloo program.
Those early years were formative, he said.
“They helped me grow into the player I am today.”
It was when he was in Grade 8 that he saw that he could pursue baseball at a higher level, setting his sights on the scholarship route, as he’d long been a fan of college sports.
“That was when I thought, ‘maybe I can give this a shot,’” said Jacklin.
A couple of years later he switched to the Great Lake Canadians program launched by a couple of guys with pro baseball experience, Chris Robinson and Adam Stern.
“It’s a great learning experience,” he said of playing against stronger competition. “There are some good players there.”
Instructors keep them focused, noting there’s plenty of competition at each phase along the road to playing professional baseball.
“Someone is always gunning for your spot. You’ve got to stay committed to what you’re doing.”
Jacklin is very familiar with that commitment, having devoted much of his time to training. His current schedule covers six days a week, including two in London. On top of that, though having graduated last summer from EDSS, he’s back part time taking extra credits, fitting part-time work into the week.
“Your social life definitely suffers a bit,” he laughed. “Baseball would always come first.”
Having been focused on his goal from an early age, Jacklin notes his parents have been supportive every step of the way.
“I owe a lot to my parents,” he said. “I’m very thankful for all that they’ve done for me throughout my baseball career.”
The hard work and effort have paid off to date, with his college years now on the horizon. Jacklin said he’s looking forward to the new adventure.
“I like meeting new people, having new experiences,” he said, adding past shifts to new teams and plenty of travel should help in the adjustment.
“Being able to play baseball at the next level will be exciting.”