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Potskin's national team dreams stuck in pandemic pause

Twenty-five-year-old-year-old anxious to strut shortstop skills on international fastball fields

Nick Potskin thought he and his ball glove were heading to Florida sometime this month.

The chance to play a tournament under the palm trees and warm ocean breezes  of the Sunshine State was going to be one of the perks of his selection as part of the 40-player roster for the senior men’s national team.

So much for that plan. The pandemic had other ideas and decided to flare up just before Christmas, scuttling the tournament and putting other plans for the national program on hold. Instead of swinging for the alligator swamp on the other side of the fence in Florida, the 25-year-old Potskin is doing what he can to sweeten his swing teeing off on practice pitching in the indoor cage of a converted billiards hall in Prince George.

COVID has been a killer in more ways than one and it’s been an absolute kryptonite for sports event organizers. Potskin has had to accept that, two years into his tenure as a part of the senior national squad, he has yet to set foot on the same field as the rest of his national teammates. He found out two weeks ago the icebreaker tournament in Fort Myers they had lined up against American opponents was cancelled.

“Since I joined the team, COVID hit, so being able to get together and do practices with them is tough now,” said Potskin. “It’s just keeping up with our workout routine and staying healthy and then  if we do go to tournament they obviously want to know what team we’re on so they can come and watch. It’s mostly them scouting us individually on our teams since we can’t really do anything co-ordinated, with the COVID.

”Getting us all together and practicing together is nightmares  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’s considered the top all-around player in Prince George. Last summer he played for the Big Guy Lake Kings in the Grand Slam tournament in Saskatoon. In 2019, after he was picked as an all-star at the ISC national championship playing for the Grande Prairie Pirates, Potskin went to New Zealand and played five months for a club team there based in Wellington.

Potskin comes by his talent for fastball honestly. His family has a multi-generational legacy of playing the game at its highest levels - locally, provincially, nationally and on the international stage. His uncle Evan played on the senior national team from 2000-09. Another Potskin uncle, Joey, a former Atlanta Braves prospect, was on Team Canada's list, along with lifelong family friend, Chad Ghostkeeper, but neither played for the team. Nick’s dad Randy was a fixture on traveling fastball teams from Prince George that competed annually in senior national and native national tournaments.  

Nick made his mark first in baseball, playing for the Prince George Knights, and was part of back-to-back provincial U-18 championships in 2014 and 2015.

“Getting picked for Team Canada was a huge break, that’s what I’ve been trying to do this whole time, as soon as I started playing,” said Nick. “I played baseball up until I was 17 or 18 and then I switched at the end of midget.”

Wherever Nick plays, people know the Potskin name, and it’s helped open doors for him in his fastball career. The name is synonymous with the sport.

“It’s awesome, 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, to be re-scheduled sometime this spring, in Parana, Venezuela. The top four teams qualify for the WBSC Men’s World Cup in Auckland, N.Z., Nov. 26-Dec. 4.

Potskin, a UNBC graduate, is an aspiring chartered public accountant working for the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation and he just finished writing his final exams, which should allow him more time to put into indoor workouts at Northern Baseball Academy and at the AP Athletics gym on Nicholson Street his brother Jared co-owns and operates as a personal trainer.

“The toughest thing is keeping up with hitting because our seasons  have been quite short, with COVID,” he said. “Having indoor cages here is a huge help.”

The Northern Baseball indoor hitting facility utilizes the HitTrax software program in its batting cage, which provides instant feedback to the batter to track exit velocity, launch angle distance and point of impact on the bat. It makes batting practice a little more fun and Potskin plans to use the technology to track his progress as he gets closer to taking his game outdoors once the spring thaw arrives.

“Hitting has definitely gotten me out there,” he said. “I’ve always been a good infielder, making the odd error,  here and there, but I think I’ve been getting better at hitting lately.”