Newmarket’s Brady Wagenhoffer did not expect to hear his name called at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association awards gala in October.
He described some uncertainty in even playing the baseball season, with close friends on the team encouraging him to suit up for the George Brown Huskies for a second year after the squad had just three wins in his first season.
But playing again paid off, as the catcher was named the association’s player of the year.
“It was shocking,” Wagenhoffer said, adding that his success "came from more practice, without COVID really interfering … Having a full year of practising without any big hiccups with COVID was nice.”
Wagenhoffer had a powerful hitting season, with 23 hits in 18 games, including three home runs, 21 RBI, and a .418 batting average. He only struck out twice on the season, garnering 13 walks.
Team head coach Josh Appel complimented his star player after the award.
"Brady is an all-around elite player in the OCAA. Offensively, he is a force. He is among the league leaders in every offensive category,” Appel said in a news release. “His consistency at the plate is exceptional and has a chance to potentially break the league record in hits and RBIs."
Wagenhoffer got his start with the Newmarket Baseball Association, making the rep team at age seven and playing until he reached high school. At that point, he made the switch to play in Toronto.
“Newmarket baseball has a big impact. That’s where I started everything,” he said. “Newmarket is very special to me.”
He played for East York and Toronto Cardinals, also cracking provincial teams in 2015 and 2017 before heading to George Brown College in 2021.
Despite the pandemic curtailing baseball and other sports, Wagenhoffer said he wanted to keep with it.
“Baseball’s always been a big part of my life, my family’s life. I just want to play as long as I can in the most competitive way possible,” he said.
Having friends there does not hurt. Fellow Newmarket alumni and George Brown teammate Tyler Romandel made the second all-star team for the OCAA, coming in right behind Wagenhoffer in many hitting categories and also having a .486 batting average.
“He encouraged me to come back and play, too, this year,” Wagenhoffer said. “If it wasn’t for him and a couple of other kids on the team, I probably wouldn’t have played college baseball.”
The team had a better campaign than the previous season, finishing 9-9. They ultimately lost in the quarterfinals, but Wagenhoffer said it was a big step forward.
“This team was special. We bonded really well, too, which was nice.”
The baseball star has also taken to playing for Europe, which he did this past summer with a travelling team. He said it is an avenue he is interested in pursuing as a possible way to play professionally.
“It was crazy to play baseball out in a different part of the world,” he said. “They’re all in their 30s making money playing ball. It’s what I want to do, too.”
But he is making contingencies, studying to be a social worker. He said he would like to help athletes through retirement and finding what they want to do next, as well as those who may struggle after injury.
“I love sports in general. I am a big fitness guy,” he said. “I can help people. That’s what I want to do.”