Treaty 4 News in partnership with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner proudly present the Ones 2 Watch. For the next 10 weeks we will present 10 individuals who are making an impact in their communities, making career moves and making people take notice of their impressive accomplishments. 

This week we focus on Jayden Montana, a ball player determined to make her mark in the sport.

Jayden Montana aims to play in Women’s College World Series

By Evan Radford

Jayden Montana

Jayden Montana at Team Canada’s central regional identification camp in Saskatoon. Photo courtesy Heather Montana

If things go Jayden Montana’s way, in a few years’ time she’ll be setting up a double play as the shortstop for the Auburn Tigers.

She’ll be playing for the NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series.

“They’ve always been known for hard workers. Like even if they get beat, they’re still the hardest working team on the field,” said the 15-year-old.

Coincidentally, on the same day Montana was working out for Canada’s under-18 softball team – June 5 – her Auburn Tigers narrowly lost the 2016 championship to Oklahoma, 2-1.

Her ideal opponent in such a scenario? “Michigan,” she said. “Michigan and Auburn have always been in the World Series against each other.”

Currently living in Regina and attending Martin Academy, Montana’s from the George Gordon First Nation.

That workout she had in June was for team Canada’s central regional identification camp, held in Saskatoon.

It effectively makes her a prospect of the team, one whom its scouts will watch until she’s eligible to play for the team, likely when she’s 16 or 17.

The workout was also one of many steps on her path to what she hopes will be the Alabama school.

Not that she’s doing it alone.

“Mostly my brother influenced me to be in-fielding – middle infield because it’s where the most action happens. It’s where you can show off what you have,” she said.

Her brother, Josh, has forged somewhat of a path for his younger sister: after completing Martin Academy’s baseball program, the 18-year-old started his college ball career with San Francisco’s Cañada College in August.

“He’s always been there for me. He’s taught me everything I know about softball, volleyball. He critiques everything I do, the sports I play to make me a better person,” she said.

ones2watch_sept-panel-ad2Montana said she can recall playing ball – always a family affair – from the time she was three years old.

And along with her skills as an infielder, she’s also a steady pitcher; it was her pitching and the urging of her pitching coach that landed her the workout with team Canada.

“I have a drop ball, drop curve, rise, change-up and a fastball,” she said, noting the rise pitch is the equivalent of baseball’s knuckle ball pitch – high risk, but high reward.

“You see it coming in, but say you swing, and you swing over it or you swing under it. But if it’s there, it’s a home run pitch – it’s not spinning very much,” she said.

Despite it being a tough choice, she said she’ll pick shortstop over pitching if, down the road, her college coaches ask her to stick with one.

“Probably just because of the feel of making a really good play, and having your teammates come and congratulate you. Or just looking around and seeing your infield partner. It’s just a good feeling to know that someone’s always there beside you to help you if you’re messing up,” she said.

Montana also said it’s important to emphasize her Christian faith in her athletic career.

“It’s always been a God-given talent. It’s never been like I did this myself. It’s through God that my talent was given. So I have to honour Him with my talent,” she said.

She noted how Christianity has allowed her to focus on her athletic goals and on maintaining strong ties with her family, sometimes at the expense of high school friends.

“It’s always the choices that you have to make. And the choice you make will always have an effect on you. So being Christian, it’s like, you have to choose wisely and live by God,” she said.

Being a ball player in Saskatchewan – with the ice and the snow and all – doesn’t hurt either, she said.

“It’s like you’re in a small town; [it’s] kind of closed. But the more you travel, the more [scouts] see you, the more exposure you get as a younger athlete. So when you’re older and reach that age, they’ve seen you before,” she said. “People in Saskatchewan have to work harder for their opportunities.”

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