HANTSPORT, N.S. — For Layton Cuvilier, 16, baseball is his life.
Day-in, day-out, if he’s not playing or practicing, he’s probably watching it on TV.
But perhaps his favourite moment of his baseball career was when he and his fellow teammates on the provincial U17 team took home bronze medals at the national championship.
“I’ve been to four national tournaments now, and (at) all of the other nationals we didn’t do so well. Seventh, eighth place. So this one was way different,” Layton said.
“It was a lot more dramatic to be a part of those bigger games,” he added.
“It was really exciting. I wasn’t really nervous, but just being on one of the best teams in the country and playing at a tournament like (this), that was great.”
On the provincial team, Layton played outfield and pitched as well.
When talking about himself, he’s a bit shy, and tends to avoid the details of how he did, but during the bronze medal game he made it on base four times. Pitching against Manitoba, he only gave up three hits.
Layton was one of two Valley players on the provincial team. The other, Micah McDowell, lives in Coldbrook.
The tournament was held in Moncton at Kiwanis Park from Aug. 8-12.
“I started playing when I was really, really young. I’ve been around baseball pretty much my whole life,” he said.
It’s no surprise that Layton, who’s been surrounded by the game for so long, has an incredibly strong baseball IQ, knowing the game’s ins and outs. Being lightning fast and getting on the bases doesn’t hurt either.
But he’s working on getting his fitness level up in order to get bigger, stronger and faster.
He said the sport has also helped him develop his leadership and social skills.
“My dad and I watch baseball together pretty much every night and when I was younger, I would usually fall asleep watching it,” he said.
“That’s helped me get a lot better at baseball, just learning more about it, watching it, being around it,” Layton added.
“A lot of good friendships are made from the sport, especially from provincial teams because you meet people from all over the province, new people and old friends,” he said. “You all learn from each other.”
Layton isn’t the only Hantsport baseball player to find success recently. Three Hantsport Shamrocks peewee level players recently found themselves on a provincial team.
He said the reason why Hantsport produces so many great baseball players is the availability of the facilities at HMCC and also the history of the Shamrocks in the community.
Outside of playing his favourite game, Layton enjoys math in school, and playing other sports with his friends.
But he doesn’t have a whole lot of free time in the summer, with his coaches keeping him pretty busy on the provincial team. But it’s clear he doesn’t really mind.
The provincial U17 team played against the U21 junior club teams to prepare for the national tournament and won, despite being four to five years younger.
When looking ahead, Layton said he’s hoping to play university or college baseball.
Chris Cuvilier, Layton’s father, used to coach him when he was younger. He’s watched him grow up with the sport and said he’s incredibly proud of what he’s been able to achieve.
“He puts a lot of work into it, and it’s definitely paid off,” Chris said. “He lives and breathes the game and he has since an early age.”
In 2016, Layton had a severe break in his leg, which almost ended his career in baseball prematurely. But after hard work with physiotherapy, he’s back on the diamond.
Like his son, Chris lives and breathes baseball. Chris has been playing and coaching the game of baseball since he was a kid — playing for 22 years, coaching for 15. Now he’s taking a break from that, focusing on driving Layton to his games and supporting him.
Chris’ father has been involved with the Hantsport Shamrocks since they restarted over 20 years ago.
It hasn’t always been easy, however. With the tournaments comes a lot of travel and associated costs — but Chris said the surrounding community rallies around their baseball players, pitching in where they can.
“With Layton and the three peewee kids, we’ve had a lot of support and sponsorship,” he said.
“The roots of baseball here run extremely deep,” he said.
“For a small area, there’s a lot of athletes doing extremely well.”