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February 27, 2024

Community Spotlight presented by Crosbie

A Journey and a Passion: Female Baseball Thrives with 700+ Players in Newfoundland

Growing up, Kristyn Coley didn’t have an opportunity to play baseball. She watched her brother on the field while she pursued softball. However, as she got older, Coley’s involvement in coaching alongside her brother ignited a new passion. 

“I wanted to keep working with baseball and develop those opportunities for females that I didn’t have growing up,” said Coley. 

Coley is now the Chair of the Women and Girls Committee for Baseball Canada, the coach of the 16U provincial team since 2014, and the assistant coach for Team Newfoundland and Labrador’s 2025 Canada Games female baseball team.

Coley has been instrumental in developing the all-female league in St. John’s area. Starting with ten players roughly a decade ago, the program has flourished, boasting well over 700 girls participating across the province in age categories ranging from U12 to U21.

“It’s been a huge amount of growth in a short amount of time. We’re really looking forward to being a part of the Canada Games to bring some legitimacy to our programs that we have and get more role models to help grow the sport going forward,” said Coley. “I’m getting to the point now where I’m starting to coach with some of the girls I coached and winning championships together, so that’s been very cool.”  

The growth in female participation isn't limited to players alone; the province has also seen a significant increase in female coaches. Coley highlights that over 20 per cent of coaches were female last year, a noteworthy figure in a traditionally male-dominated domain.

Alongside Coley, Robert Morgan and Mark Healy have also been instrumental in developing female baseball in Newfoundland. Morgan, an assistant coach for the provincial U16 and U21 teams, has been involved in the sport for over 20 years, including a stint as President of St. John’s Minor Baseball (SJMB). 

​​Morgan's journey in building female baseball programs began when his daughter expressed a desire for an all-girls team to play on. Initially faced with low numbers, Morgan persisted, advocating for female representation in provincial tournaments to get the sport on the map. However, those early days were challenging, with girls often facing adversity and abuse when playing against male teams.

“I used to ask the girls, ‘Have you seen Jackie Robinson in 42’? We watched that movie one time on the bus when we were travelling. I told them, ‘That’s what you girls are, you’re the pioneers down here. You’re going to take your abuse, the boys are going to laugh at you, but you’re doing this to build a program,’ and they took that pretty seriously.”

Fast forward to the present day, the U16 girls team were promoted into the top tier after finishing 4th at nationals. 

“We’re up there with Ontario and Quebec and British Columbia and I think that’s a huge compliment to our province. It’s going to be tough but it’s a big compliment to our program.” 

Seeing over 700 girls play baseball in the province is Morgan’s biggest satisfaction. Growing the grassroots is what he’s always been passionate about and something he put great emphasis on as president of SJMB. 

“I believe in developing the grassroots of the game, after that, your high-performance program will follow.”

Both Coley and Morgan are optimistic that the debut of female baseball at home in the 2025 Canada Games will propel the sport to new heights in Newfoundland and across the country. 

“The goal is to the point where any female at any age has a place to play. We want to keep building the program that no matter what age you are, what skill level you are, that there’s a program we have that will meet the needs, from Sport for Life to high performance.” 

As female baseball takes center stage at the Canada Games from August 19-24, anticipation runs high for a showcase of talent and dedication, marking a significant milestone in the journey of female baseball in Newfoundland.