True Grit winner kept chin up despite injuries
Baseball: Okotoks Dawgs banquet Feb. 2 at Foothills Centennial Centre.
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 06:00 am
The former manager of the Okotoks Dawgs has seen the sad-eyed puppy dog look from the team’s 2012 True Grit Award winner.
Every time manager Brandon Newell didn’t pencil Rylan Chin into the line-up last season he knew it wouldn’t go over well with the three-year collegiate Dawg.
“Rylan battled through some injuries the past two years and I had to practically rip the jersey off his back to stop him from playing,” Newell said. “It was always one of the hardest conversations to have. You could look into his eyes and see it was killing him not to be on the field.”
Chin’s fortitude and commitment will be honoured at the team’s annual awards ceremony and banquet on Feb. 2.
The affable Dawg’s career is over and he is now at the University of British Columbia, where he is finishing his kinesiology degree and pondering the idea of trying out for the school’s golf team. He joined the Dawgs program in 2007 — the first year the team was in Okotoks — as a member of the Okotoks Midget Black Dawgs.
“To me the award means I gave a 100 per cent on the field and that I am proud to be a Dawg,” Chin said of receiving the True Grit honour. “Even though I would have liked to have a championship over an award, I appreciate the fact they are recognizing me for my contribution to the Dawgs since 2007.”
The Strathmore native was a Dawg who helped the team in any way he could.
The second baseman ended up playing all three outfield position and also some shortstop last season. As a rookie college Dawg in 2010 he became the team’s shortstop approximately a third into the season. It was all just part of
helping the team.
“My first year the starting shortstop left midway through,” Chin said. “I got thrown into shortstop and it really helped my career as a whole.”
Chin’s final season with the Dawgs last summer wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for. The Dawgs looked like world-beaters in June, but with the departure of some starting pitchers and then hard-hitting Tyler Hollick turning pro, Okotoks ended up being eliminated by the Medicine Hat Mavericks in the opening round of the Western Major Baseball League playoffs.
Injuries limited Chin to playing in 29 of the Dawgs’ 45 games in 2012. He hit .248 after coming off his best year at Campbellsville University where he hit for a .392 average.
“It was an up-and-down year, but as I look back I really appreciate what the fans and the organization has done for me,” Chin said. “Playing that last game in Okotoks — not knowing it would be my last game — was probably the hardest thing for me because I didn’t know at the time it would be the last one in front of those fans.”
In his final game with the Dawgs Chin was taped up like a mummy as he stepped on to the field for Game 3 against the Mavericks in Medicine Hat.
“My knee was all taped up and the game got out of hand and Brandon pulled me out,” Chin said. “I wasn’t very mobile, had a couple of at bats.”
The Dawgs’ season would end the following night when they were beaten 5-4 by the Mavs in extra innings while Chin watched from the bench at Seaman Stadium — which was hard for Chin and likely coach Newell as well.
“He would stay away from me when he didn’t have me in the lineup,” Chin said with a laugh. “He knew I would try to hunt him down and tell him I wanted to play. I have a lot or respect for Brandon and he was just doing what was best for the team.”
Tickets for the Dawgs’ banquet are available by calling the Dawgs’ office at 403-262-3294. The guest speaker is Dawgs alumnus Jim Henderson, who after 10 years in the minor leagues, pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers during their National League Central pennant run last summer.
The banquet will also feature a tribute to the 2012 Canadian champion Okotoks Midget Black Dawgs.
Proceeds from the awards banquet will go towards supporting the Dawgs’ programs and facilities.