Brady Sandes has a passion for baseball.
The U18 Cloverdale Minor Baseball Association (CMBA) player has lived and breathed the sport for more than a decade.
Now he’s going to play college ball in the States after landing a scholarship to play for the Simpson University Red Hawks in Redding, Calif., signing his letter of intent Feb. 9.
“I’m excited about it,” said Sandes. “This was my goal for the past couple of years.”
Sandes, a Cloverdale resident who attends Langley Christian School, said that goal became a little harder after COVID hit, but he was able to persevere, despite COVID restrictions, and work toward landing a scholarship.
“We were still able to get a little bit of a season in last year. So that was good, just to be able to play. And I was blessed that God gave me the opportunity to talk to a couple of coaches. And then this opportunity arose.”
Sandes, a right-handed pitcher and shortstop, last played for the Cloverdale Nationals—CMBA’s U18 college prep team.
Bob Foerster, coach for the Nationals, said on fieldlevel.com that he was happy to find out Sandes signed with Simpson.
“Brady has been working towards this opportunity for many years now and I’m very happy for him and his family. His hard work and determination has paid off and I know he will be successful.”
Sandes talked with several coaches in the U.S. before choosing Simpson.
CMBA is proud to celebrate with Brady Sandes as he signs his Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career and education at Simpson University. Brady has been a long standing member of the CMBA community and is pictured below with his biggest fan and brother, Dayton. Good Luck pic.twitter.com/UWrhTkncDE— Cloverdale Baseball (@cloverdalespurs) February 8, 2021
But Sandes may not have even been in a position to sign any letters of intent had fate not taken hold of his sporting path.
“I’ve been into sports all my life,” said Sandes. “I started baseball and hockey at the same time. And I played both all the way up to Grade 5.”
Then Sandes broke his leg playing soccer during a recess in Grade 5 and had to miss the rest of the hockey season.
“After that year, I was like, ‘I don’t really want to play hockey anymore.’ I was getting up super, super early multiple times a week—and I was only in Grade 5—and I just didn’t want to do that anymore.”
So Sandes turned his sporting focus toward the diamond and, in time, that focus paid off.
“Baseball’s always been my favorite sport. I play a lot of school sports too, but I wanted to go and play baseball at the pro level.”
His eureka moment came a couple of years ago after he made the Cloverdale Nationals as a Grade 10 player on a team with mostly Grade 12s.
“I started playing really, really well in the first couple of weeks and then sort of talked about this [dream] as actually being realistic,” recalled Sandes.
“I thought, ‘OK, now I have to start figuring out how to make it a reality.’ So we made a game plan, sort of what I needed to do to make this happen. I just wanted to make the process as realistic as possible,” he explained.
So Sandes sat down with his family to come up with a plan to convert that dream into as much reality as he could muster. That included: setting up a profile on a university sports recruiting network; recording video of Sandes throwing heat from the mound, and hitting and fielding balls; reaching out to college coaches in the U.S.; and, ultimately, only picking a university that fit in with his academic and sporting goals.
“I want to have a family one day and I need to have a job to support my family,” said Sandes. “If baseball doesn’t work out for whatever reason, I want to be able to get a good education and be able to use that as something to fall back on.”
Sandes ended up getting a bunch of offers from different schools. Then he narrowed those offers down to his top five—based on academics and their baseball programs.
“I was like, ‘hey, what’s going to be the best sort of option for me?’ And I ended up choosing Simpson, not just because of academics and stuff, but my family’s also really big into Challenger Baseball and they have a program there.”
According to Baseball B.C., “Challenger Baseball … provides an opportunity for children with cognitive or physical disabilities to enjoy the full benefits of participation in baseball at a level structured to their abilities.”
“I want to be able to be a part of that from the moment I go down there.”
Sandes said his family, led by his dad Jeff Sandes, started the Challenger program in Cloverdale several years ago.
“My youngest brother, he’s special needs, so I’ve always been super, super involved in that community and I love working with kids.”
When the Sandes family started up the Challenger program, they had 12 kids in the first year. Now entering their fifth year, they have nearly 70 participating.
Sandes said the difference he makes coaching kids in the Challenger division is bigger than anything he could achieve playing ball.
“This actually has a real-life impact on so many different people. I’m never going to have as much of an impact really, in all the games that I play, as opposed to just a couple hours playing with these kids, teaching them baseball, and just being their friend. It’s huge.”
Sandes will be studying kinesiology when he gets to Redding.
“I love sports, like I said before, and I want to ideally stay in the sporting field if baseball doesn’t work out. So I want to take kinesiology and then maybe get into some other things like chiropractic, or physiotherapy, or sports physiotherapy, that sort of thing.”
Sandes sees his biggest challenge in Redding as just adjusting to life away from home.
“I think it’s, like, an 11- or 12-hour drive away. And I’m in a completely different country. So I’m just going to be pretty much completely on my own.”
He said he is excited to be making a big jump to what will be a higher, tougher level of ball.
“Baseball in the States is a lot different than baseball up here, but the hardest part of everything will be being alone. I can workout. I can take extra hits. I can take extra ground balls, if I’m way behind. But I can’t really do anything, aside from call my parents at home, if I’m lonely.”
Sandes is set to head down to California at the beginning of August.