‘Something I have been working towards’ — Gavin Roy becomes latest Voyageur to ink college commitment
Sudbury Voyageurs baseball fans will no doubt have noted Gavin Roy’s commitment to staying in tip-top physical form. But just as important in his evolution as an athlete, and a key step in his preparation for the post-secondary level, has been the development between his ears.
“Baseball is a big mental game,” explained the infielder from Val Caron, who celebrated his 18th birthday last Wednesday. “I knew I needed to have a good mental side of the game and if things don’t go well, I need to stay calm and keep doing what I’m doing.
“It was definitely something I had to develop. I’m a very competitive person, so when things didn’t go my way, it was hard to keep in check, but I think I got better at that.”
Following a standout season with the Voyageurs boys 18U squad in the Premier Baseball League of Ontario, as well as a head-turning performance at the Northern Open ID showcase in August, Roy announced his commitment Tuesday to Cloud County Community College, a junior college in Concordia, Kan.
The son of Sylvain Roy and Jennifer Loiselle plans to suit up for the Cloud County Thunderbirds men’s baseball team and to study human development.
“It’s something I have been working towards, so it’s nice to finally get it out of the way and to continue working hard at it,” said Roy, following a short signing ceremony at The Baseball Academy, the Voyageurs’ training facility on Lorne Street.
Cloud County’s “nice, tight-knit community” was definitely a selling point, he said, as was the baseball program’s impressive record of player development.
“It checked every box for me, criteria-wise, in terms of great coaching and getting players off to the next level, because after a JUCO team, I want to go to a four-year school and I think they do that very well. I got all their training programs and they look really good, so I’m just really excited.”
Roy became the latest in a string of Voyageurs to commit to university and college programs on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, some of whom were already back in the Nickel City and training at the same site as Tuesday’s press conference. Predecessors such as Parker Savard have already helped to set the template Roy hopes to follow, the former having starred for Dakota County Technical Community College before also finding success at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
“A lot of them are big influences on me pursuing baseball and taking it as far as I can,” Roy said. “I appreciate them for being my role models.”
Just as influential were his early coaches in the Valley East Renegades system, many of whom were named near the top of Tuesday’s event by Jean-Gilles Larocque, Roy’s bench boss with both the 18U Voyageurs and the St. Charles Cardinals high school crew.
“It was mostly just believing in me and trusting in me and letting me get the reps I need,” Roy said of his mentors during those formative years.
That experience proved valuable once he reached the rep ranks, progressing through the Voyageurs’ 15U, 16U and 18U teams.
“Jean-Gilles is hard on me, but in a good way. That really strengthens my mental game, the mental side of it.”
Larocque, however, figures he had plenty to work with in Roy, who may not cut the most imposing figure at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, and thus seem like an odd fit at shortstop, but has the athleticism, dedication and drive that make him not only a key contributor, but a leader on the field.
“He’s going to go to a great school, a great academic program, and he’s going to end up finding out that he doesn’t have to put the weight of the world on his own shoulders,” Larocque said. “With us, he’s a lead-off hitter, a shortstop, so he’s feeling like he has to do everything. Now, he’s going to learn that everyone is just as good and what’s going to separate them are the six inches between their ears, and I hope that’s what we have instilled and helped to mould, putting some things in place for him that are going to help him understand the game a little bit more, in the sense of taking a deep breath, stepping back, getting out of your own head, to help him get to the next level.
“Physically, there’s no question he belongs there and mentally, he’s super mature, beyond his actual age, but it’s just him putting those things in place that are going to help him develop.”
Whether in league play, in prospect showcases or on pre-COVID jaunts to the U.S., Larocque said the youngster showed tremendous grit and a tendency to defy the expectations many might have for a high-level shortstop.
“They’re looking for a guy who’s 6-2, who needs to do this, needs to do this, needs to look a certain way,” Larocque suggested. “If you go to a showcase and watch Gavin, he might get lost in the shuffle with people who have more of a physical presence, but if you’re a coach who watches him play through an entire weekend, you’re going to say I need 12 of these guys on my team. He brings those intangibles — it’s communication with the pitcher, it’s keeping the team calm when things aren’t going so well and when things are going the other way, too, and it’s communication with the outfielders. Even hitting, it’s sitting in the dugout and looking at what the pitcher is doing to the rest of the hitters, sitting on the bucket close to the dugout and seeing how things are playing out, who should be where, what’s going on, talking to guys about base-running. It’s like having another coach on the field.
“He gets to those balls no one else is getting to, because he studies the game so well and if he sees you in one at-bat, he has a good idea of where you’re going to hit the ball next time. He looks at all those different types of things to make himself better.”
Aside from his on-field pursuits, Roy’s career goals include earning a job in his field of study with a large sports franchise.
“I’d like to thank my parents for their support, and my family,” he said. “And obviously, Jean-Gilles was a big part of this, too.”