FOCUS - JULY 2017 57 Elite athletes want success to be a challenge. While winning remains the ultimate goal, arriving at that conclu- sion through adversity is the truest test. “It’ll be an opportunity to play against the best of the best,” remarks Jeff St Pierre of the upcom- ing Canada Summer Games. “That brings out the best in you.” Jeff and fellow Scugog fastball player Clayton Robinson will compete on the Men’s Under-21 fastball team representing Ontario at the Games, in late July in Winnipeg. Fastball uses a softball, but makes two critical adjustments to that game’s rules to stimulate offence: the bases are closer together and the pitching distance is shorter. “Definitely I’m looking forward to it,” Clayton says. “I’ve played in the Nationals before, but for that, each province sent multiple teams. This time, each has just one. I’m anxious to match up against their best.” The two young men – coinciden- tally both pitchers – arrived at that elite level by similar paths. “My hockey coach got me inter- ested in fastball,” Jeff remembers. “I played some pick up, then helped put together an organized team in Port Perry. Over time, we recruited new players and eventually travelled across Canada.” One of those recruits was Clayton Robinson. “I’m a year younger,” he explains. “After a couple years of rep ball, I tried out for Jeff’s team, the Port Perry Lumberjacks, and caught on.” Ironically, neither started off pitching. “I was playing withanotherteam,be- fore the Lumberjacks, and our pitcher was struggling,” Clayton recalls. “I’d been a catcher up till then, but decided to give it a try.” Jeff’s transition, from third base, was equally unplanned. “Our pitcher got injured,” he explains. “I tried it and liked it, devel- oped my windmill [pitching delivery] at 13 years old.” Both became enthusiastic students of their new position. “I had a great coach here in Port Perry named Brad Ricknell,” Jeff says. “Then when I started to play in Oshawa, Pete Landers taught me a lot.” Wintertime practice helped to de- velop Clayton’s game. “When I was younger, I went to ‘Spinmaster’ during the winters. They help pitchers learn the fundamentals and master good pitching mechan- ics. The past two years, I’ve worked with Todd Martin in Toronto, and he helped take me to the next level.” ...................... Please turn to page 58 Putting Their Forward BEST PITCH Port Perry Pair Hope Ontario Hits a Homer