Twenty five year old eager to show shortstop skills on international fastball courts
Nick Potskin thought he and his ball glove would be going to Florida sometime this month.
The chance to play a tournament under the palm trees and warm ocean breezes of the Sunshine State would be one of the benefits of his roster as part of the 40-player roster for the national senior team.
So much for that plan. The pandemic had other ideas and decided to flare up just before Christmas, sinking the tournament and putting other plans for the national program on hold. Instead of swinging to the alligator swamp on the other side of the Florida fence, 25-year-old Potskin does what he can to soften his swing while practicing pitching in the covered cage of a converted billiard room in Prince George.
COVID has been a killer in more ways than one, and it has been an absolute kryptonite for sporting event organizers. Potskin has had to accept that two years after his appointment to the national team, he has not yet set foot on the same field as the rest of his national team-mates. He learned two weeks ago that the Fort Myers icebreaker tournament that they had lined up against American opponents had been canceled.
“Since I joined the team, COVID hit, so it’s hard now to get together and do exercises with them,” Potskin said. “It’s just keeping up with our training routine and staying healthy and then when we go to a tournament they obviously want to know which team we’re on so they can come and see. It’s usually them scouting us individually in our teams because we don’t really be able to do something coordinated, with the COVID.
“It’s a nightmare to get us all together and practice together because we’re all over Canada.”
Potskin’s speed, athleticism and natural ability to field the ball suit him well at shortstop and with his power at the plate, he is regarded as Prince George’s best all-round player. Last summer, he played for the Big Guy Lake Kings in the Grand Slam tournament in Saskatoon. In 2019, after being chosen as an all-star at the ISC National Championship for the Grande Prairie Pirates, Potskin went to New Zealand and played for a club team in Wellington for five months.
Potskin comes through his talent for fastball honestly. His family has a multi-generational legacy of playing the game at the highest levels – local, provincial, national and on the international stage. His uncle Evan played on the senior national team in the 90s along with lifelong friend of the Potskin family, Chad Ghostkeeper, and Nick’s father Randy was a regular on Prince George’s traveling teams that competed annually in senior national and native national tournaments. Nick made his first impression in baseball, playing for the Prince George Knights, and being a part of consecutive U-18 provincial championships in 2014 and 2015.
“Being selected for Team Canada was a huge breakthrough, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along, as soon as I started playing,” said Nick. “I played baseball until I was 17 or 18 and then I switched at the dwarf end.”
Wherever Nick plays, people know the name Potskin and it has opened doors for him in his fastball career. The name is synonymous with the sport.
“It’s great I think because when you go somewhere they may not know you, but they hear your name and want to know you, and that’s how you meet so many people,” he said.
Potskin is an alternate on the 16-player national team picked to play in the 2022 Pan-Am Championship, scheduled to be rescheduled sometime this spring, in Venezuela’s Parana. The top four teams will qualify for the WBSC Men’s World Cup in Auckland, NZ, from November 26 through December. 4.
A graduate of UNBC, Potskin is an aspiring chartered accountant who works for the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation and has just finished writing his final exams, which should require him to spend more time indoor training at the Northern Baseball Academy and the AP Athletics gym on Nicholson Street is co-owned by his brother Jared and works as a personal trainer.
“The hardest part is keeping up with the beating, because our seasons have been quite short, with COVID,” he said. “Having indoor cages here is a huge help.”
Northern Baseball’s indoor batting facility uses the HitTrax software program in the batting cage, which provides instant feedback to the batter to track exit speed, distance from launch angle and point of impact on the bat. It makes batting practice a bit more fun, and Potskin plans to use the technology to track his progress as he gets closer to playing outside once spring comes.
“Hitting definitely got me out,” he said. “I’ve always been a good infielder, I made a few mistakes here and there, but I think I’m getting better at hitting lately.”