Jaida Lee is excelling at the highest prospect level in baseball, outperforming older players regardless of age or gender and showing a rare love of the game
When you look at hockey stars, the old adage is they were born with a stick in their hands. A figure-skater? They hit the ice with skates on before they could walk! In the case of 12 year old Jaida Lee, a sports prodigy of the highest caliber, baseball has been a part of her life since toddler-times.
In the Blood
Lee first played catch with her father, a respected coach in the province, at the age of three. Her brothers have been in the local systems for the entirety of Jaida’s young life. You could say the game of baseball is in the blood.
“I guess all of it brings the family together,” Lee shared with The Herald.
“My favourite part is pitching. If I’m told I’m pitching a certain game, normally my whole family comes, from aunts and uncles to brothers and parents. If I’m playing in a tournament, my whole family always comes to whatever games they can but they always make time for the gold medal game. It makes me feel better, especially if I have a bad game.”
“She just loves it,” her mother Amanda Lee shared. “She wakes up every summer morning asking her dad to take her to the batting cage and throw a bucket of balls or to the mound for practice. It’s always on her mind. She never tires of it.”
Playing with the Boys
Excelling at the sport from a young age, Jaida often found herself playing amongst the boys, playing outside of her division and age group.
“When I first got there I was really nervous and scared none of the guys would want me on their team,” Lee said of playing alongside boys and older kids.
“At the start, none of them were fond of it, but having my dad as the coach and my brother on the team made it so that I wasn’t left out of anything and I always had someone to have a catch with. Once the guys saw me play and found out I was just as good as them, they included me in everything, they became supportive and invited me to join in with them. After that it was never questioned, I would always want to play with the guys and later on with the girls as well.”
In 2016, Jaida and the 14u girls squad won provincials, advancing to the Atlantic’s in Halifax. That same year her Mosquito AAA all-star team won the provincial title, advancing to the provincials a week later, a stretch of appearances that strengthened Lee’s bonds as a player and teammate.
Jaida was among seven Newfoundland girls chosen to take part in the Baseball For All Nationals female tournament in Chicago this past summer.
“Going there I was again nervous for her, the island is small and she’s outstanding here but how would she fit in when you go against so many that play much longer seasons,” Amanda said.
“There was no need, she was amazing and still one of the strongest pitchers.”
Jaida is truly a student of the game, practicing daily and researching and studying players and icons of the sport. She prides herself on being an adaptable player, taking on a chameleon-like approach to playing wherever her talents are best suited on the field.
“I practice everyday and when I’m off I’m reading all about MLB players or down at the field watching in hope that when the day comes, if it comes that I am prepared for that competition.”
“When I travelled to Chicago I was nervous at first, wondering if I was going to be at the bottom, top or middle of the team. I ended up being between the middle and top of the pack. I played pretty much every inning with the exception of one throughout the whole tournament. I caught, pitched and played a lot of third base. I even played a few innings in centerfield. I can and have played everywhere on the field which makes me more of a utility to any team I am picked for.”
Jaida’s dream, much like many female athletes to pick up a bat or ball, is to suit up for the MLB. Having her way, she’d be the first women in history to do so.
“My goal is to be on Team Canada but my dream job would be to play in the MLB, but furthermore, to be the first girl in the MLB,” she said.
‘Dream Big Baby’
Ever the pragmatist, she does have a backup plan in case history moves too slowly. “Since this is very hard to achieve I also have an interest in being a sports medicine doctor,” she shared.
The final word goes to her mom, undoubtedly one of her biggest supporters. “With her drive I don’t doubt that will happen … Dream big baby girl, anything really is possible.”