Kristopher Walushka practically grew up with a bat in his hands.
At five years old, Walushka convinced his parents to let him sign up for baseball. Turns out he was too young for hardball, but met the age requirements for softball, so Walushka spent his youth playing in the Langford fastball system, now known as the Langford Lightning.
That early fork in the road reached an apex last week when Walushka was named to Canada’s national softball team.
“It’s been an amazing week … I can’t even thank enough people, there’s just so many people that have helped me on this journey,” he said.
Walushka earned one of five available spots for the 2017 team after final tryouts in Ontario, with returning players making up the bulk of the roster, and will don the Maple Leaf at two tournaments this summer including the World Championships in Whitehorse beginning on July 7.
“To put [the Canadian uniform] on and represent your country in your own country. It’s going to be the best feeling in the world and I can’t wait to do it.”
It’s unclear where on the diamond Walushka will play, but it is clear that the Belmont secondary teacher will provide the Canadian squad with a dose of versatility as he’s capable of playing anywhere in the infield or outfield. He also pointed to his speed as one of his best assets.
The 33 year-old also credits his coaches growing up – which included his father Dan Walushka – with instilling him with a strong work ethic and he was quick to thank his wife Anna for putting up with the countless hours he’s spent at the batting cages over the years.
Now, using his recent accomplishments as a perfect example, Walushka hopes to pass along those traits to his students at Belmont, where he teaches physical education and coaches for the school’s baseball and softball academy.
“Having to day in and day out be in the gym or in the cage or hitting off the tee or taking ground balls,” he said. “It’s all about the effort and the hard work and I can’t express that to my students enough.”
West Shore ball fans will get a chance to see Walushka in action prior to his stint with the national team. His Sooke Loggers squad will take on the New Zealand national team at Langford’s Centennial Park on June 25. Games are scheduled for noon and 2 p.m.