When the pandemic wiped out Orillia Legion Minor Baseball this summer, it was disappointing for local baseball players. But it created an opportunity for Chaser’s Baseball Development.
The Orillia-based baseball academy has been helping local youth develop their baseball skills since Chase Walach started the business in the spring of 2015.
The 26-year-old Amherstburg native played competitive baseball for eight years at the AAA and USA Elite level as a first baseman. Since moving to Orillia after high school, Walach developed a passion to pass on his skill and knowledge to the next generation.
“I want to give back to the game and help kids pursue their passion and dreams of playing at the highest level possible,” Walach said.
When Walach and his family moved to Orillia in 2013, he joined Tim Timpano’s Orillia Royals coaching staff, where he learned the ins and outs of coaching youth.
“When I moved here and got a feel for what the program was like in Orillia, I fell in love with it," Walach said. "Coaching here really developed a new drive and passion for me."
Walach, who is now the head coach of the 16 and under rep team, decided he was going to create a business to help local players push their limits to reach their full potential.
“Tim (Timpano) was a great influence for me, and I had great coaches growing up in Windsor who I was able to learn off of and apply their knowledge towards my own teachings,” Walach explained.
During Chaser’s baseball development sessions, players run through unique drills that teach different fundamentals and mechanics that go beyond the hitting and fielding aspects of the game.
“From my experience playing baseball, it isn’t just about being able to hit the furthest or being able to run the fastest, it’s also a lot about footwork,” Walach explains.
“A lot of my drills are based on having faster and smoother footwork, that’s kind of what we focus on.”
Walach says he has no problem getting players to buy into his strategies and system because of the successes he has had in his own career.
“When kids hear my story and see how hard I pushed to get to a high level of baseball, it brushes off onto them,” Walach said.
In Walach's elite program, which helps kids push for post-secondary scholarships, he has coached all seven of his players to success. Almost all of them have had interactions with post-secondary programs that are interested in offering a scholarship.
Despite this success, Walach stresses that he can only give players tools to work with, adding the work ethic must come from within.
“I tell the kids it takes time, you need to trust the process. Baseball is more of a mental game than it is a physical game, it’s all about how much work you are willing to put in,” Walach said.
This past summer Chaser’s Baseball Development also made it to the next level as Walach grew his clientele from 10 clients to 30, creating his biggest challenge yet.
“It was a game-changer. It’s a very small business and it’s still very new, so the fact that it was able to jump from 10 to 30 was tough,” Walach admits.
“Because kids didn’t have baseball they were looking for a different outlet. For me it was difficult trying to balance that with my own work and social life.”
Although he is still adapting, Walach is excited about the opportunity to work with more local players and helping them improve their skills.
“It’s awesome, that’s the end game for me, it’s not about being popular around the city or the money. I started this business to help kids get better at the game so they can pursue their goals and dreams,” Walach explains.
Walach will continue working with his clients during the winter months at the Orillia Fieldhouse indoor training facility.
While Walach is happy with where his business is now, his goal is to get more players involved with the elite program and have them graduate with post-secondary scholarships.