SportsLife 2016, Issue 2 - Page 28

Softball Legend Keeps Teaching the Game By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Greg Bouchard and Softball Manitoba Back in the day, softball star Greg Bouchard was the best fastball pitcher in Manitoba. Of course, he certainly had the pedigree. Of course, you might say Bouchard had softball in his blood. After all, his father Leo, his uncle Cam, his aunt Grace and his cousin Stacy were all members of the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame before he was inducted in 2014. In fact, he gave quite a speech on the day of his Hall of Fame induction: “I’m so proud to be joining my father, my uncle and aunt and my cousin in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “My father, Leo, was inducted in 2003, my uncle Cam in 2004 and my aunt Grace (Peckover) Bouchard, a great CUAC Blues catcher, was inducted in 2007. And Cam and Grace’s daughter, Stacy, was also inducted in 2007 as a member of the 1993-1997 Smitty’s senior teams. There is no honour that I can think of that means more to me than this. Joining my family in the Hall is humbling for me.” Upon his induction, he was called “a dominating pitcher in Manitoba Softball” who took his teams to many Western and Canadian Championships. In 1979, he was named Softball Manitoba’s Male Minor Player of the Year. In 1980, he was named the top Senior Player. And in 1989, the Top Male Player. He was also called “Greg Bouchard -- the great pitcher, great team-mate and great guy.” But that was then, this is now. Today, at 54, Bouchard is no longer the strikeout master that he was when he pitched at the highest levels of the game However, that just means that he has time to give back. Bouchard is still pitching, albeit most of that pitching is done on a warm Saturday morning with a gaggle of young boys and girls around him, 28 / sportslife hanging on every word. Bouchard is the Master Pitching Instructor for Softball Manitoba and he comes by his ability to teach with the same experience and wisdom that made him a great pitcher: He became a great school teacher first. “I grew up in a softball family,” said Bouchard who is now the principal at Andrew Mynarski School in Winnipeg. “I was the kid pitching between Winnipeg Colonels’ doubleheader games at Charlie Krupp Stadium. I was taught and mentored by the best pitchers in Canada, the best pitchers you would ever see. “My Uncle Gabby was the Colonels pitcher. My dad, Leo, was the coach. It was Claude Gagnon who got him to Colonels, working for old Harry Beukert. I played hockey and some football and fell in love with basketball, but softball was my game. In fact, the last basketball coaching job I had was in the 90s and early 2000s with Dave Crook at the University of Winnipeg. “These days, I’ve been able to give back as the Master Pitching Instructor for Manitoba. It’s been very rewarding but I’ve noticed that fastpitch is becoming a women’s game or a First Nation’s game. It’s amazing, but all this work I’ve been doing as the provincial instructor has taken me to a lot of places in the province. A couple of weeks ago, I did a clinic at Fisher River, and I’ve noticed that the only time I get to work with males is when I go to an aboriginal community.” It’s true. It appears that most males in Manitoba and even Canada, have decided that slopitch is the answer. Fastpitch, as a male sport, has been dying a fast death while female athletes, especially in our province, have taken over the game.