Become a Volunteer
- Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:00
- Written by Anna James
Still a young man, Wilson has had some unfortunate setbacks in his career but continues to fight, making him an exciting prospect for New Zealand and their pursuit of newfound baseball glory in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in November in Taiwan.
Relocating from Canada to New Zealand at age seven, Wilson found an advertisement in a local paper to play baseball, and despite having grown up with tee ball, Wilson never knew the sport existed in his adopted homeland. With some solid support, Wilson's lifelong dream quickly became a reality.
Wilson credits the coaching of former Baseball New Zealand development officer Greg Wolfe, now coaching at the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Club, to his beginnings in the game.
"From the start, Greg was down at the field everyday with me," said the 22-year-old. "He taught me how to play the game, physically and emotionally. I owe a lot of my success to him."
Wilson's rise in the years between these trips is nothing short of remarkable. "I've been fortunate enough to travel the world with baseball... From year one I was able to represent NZ in the Little League Asia-Pacific qualifiers in Hong Kong," he added. "This was the beginning of my baseball career. From then on, I was a baseball fanatic. I've represented New Zealand in all of the age groups since, and was fortunate enough to captain the New Zealand 18U team that played against Australia in an attempt to qualify for the 18U World Champs."
Missing out on the spot at the World Championships, but coming away with the silver medal, gave Wilson the opportunity to develop a new role on the field.
"Growing up I was always a catcher, but as I grew my arm became stronger" said Wilson, who now boasts a 6'4 frame. "I changed to become a pitcher and this is where my baseball career got exciting."
Narrowly missing out on joining his New Zealand teammate Andrew Marck in the Brisbane Bandits, Wilson returned home. "I didn't make the squad, but from there I was really motivated to keep stepping my game up and I worked hard over the summer back home."
Wilson's next quest was Toyama, Japan, where he was invited to try out for the Toyama Thunderbirds an independent team in the Baseball Challenge League. "I missed out by inches" reflects Wilson, who failed to nab a roster spot. "I returned home with one goal and that was to be ready to compete in Taiwan in November, and be a part of Baseball New Zealand history.
"Looking ahead to the WBC qualifiers I have been working hard on strength and conditioning, just trying to get in best shape possible for when tryouts come around. We have a [training group] together now where we have two great trainers that really push us and we are starting to see the results."
Ideally, Wilson would like to see best friend Andrew Marck make the bullpen, who he cites as one of his mentors, due to the success of his past ABL season. Scott Campbell, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays organisation, who will play a role on the New Zealand team, is another of Wilson's heroes.
"I look forward to getting on the mound again when it starts to dry up... From there I'll develop my arm strength and work constantly on mechanics to fine tune my delivery."
Wilson is quick admitting that it won't be easy, but rest assured his commitment is "definitely 100 per cent."
"This may not be my 'birth' country, but New Zealand is my home and has been for the past 15 years. I hope the hard work that I am putting in gives me a chance to wear the New Zealand uniform and be able to represent our great country at one of the highest levels of competition."
Proud New Zealanders of unnerving dedication will form the New Zealand team, and for this determined prospect, just getting the chance to play "is an honour and a great privilege."
By Anna James | Email Anna
Anna James is a Sydney born journalist, based in Brisbane. Follow her on Twitter @missannajames
This story was not subject to the approval of Baseball New Zealand or its affiliates.