Nationals reunited with former players on JUCO Trip

by Cam Black-Araujo

The Ontario Nationals 2019 JUCO Trip sent the 18U team, as well as some 17U players, through Illinois, Kansas and Iowa to give them a taste of junior college baseball. 

One of the main things we strive for in this organization to help develop players ready to play at the collegiate level and this trip is a huge part of that development, allowing players the opportunity to not only showcase themselves right in front of college coaches, but also showing them where they stack up against college players themselves. 

It was an action packed five days with six games all while travelling through the U.S. Midwest and it also allowed the organization and coaches to be reunited with three former players, all from last year's 18U team, who have moved on to play junior college baseball.

On the opening day of the trip in Illinois, the 18U's took on Nick Styles and Shane Elliott who now suit up for the South Suburban CC Bulldogs. 

"It was great to see some of my previous teammates and coaches," said Elliott. "The minute I heard they had arrived I couldn't wait to see them. Fortunately I caught the team during their tour of the school and was able to check in with everyone before the game."

The trip concluded with an afternoon game in Kansas against the Garden City CC Broncbusters which allowed the team to catch up with right-hander Owen Mitchell, another 2019 alumn. 

"I am still getting used to the junior college lifestyle but I am very thankful that I was able to get an understanding of what it would be like through the trips," explained Mitchell. "I think the current 18u squad really enjoyed themselves and it opened some of their eyes during the trip."

Here's what a few of the 18U players had to say of their week travelling the U.S. and testing their skills against players at the next level. 

"I think trips like these are great because you get to see how hard all the players work and how much time they put into baseball, school and lifting weights. The biggest thing I learned and took home with me is that every school pretty much said you have to lift weights and have a great work ethic to play at the next level."
-Alex Springer, 18U

"The trip was an amazing experience seeing college stadiums, facilities and campuses. My favourite part was definitely going on the tours through each campus because prior to this trip I didn't completely know the difference between NCAA schools and junior colleges."
-Trent Hill, 16U