Manitoba's U21 Women's Baseball Team has one member who's quite a bit under the age threshold.
Jewell Thompson of MacGregor is only 16-years-old playing with the Senior Women's Provincial Team. She says she's been able to learn a ton under the wing of these older girls.
"They're always teaching me new things. They're cool to be around, and they always tell me about their experiences," Thompson explains. "They've taught me how to be a part of a team. It's really cool that we're all females trying to make an impact. It's good to hear about the other girls' experience coming up and playing all-boys baseball."
Thompson, for most of her life, has played with boys' teams, noting these tournaments with Team Manitoba are the only chances she gets to play with strictly women. The pitcher says she's always preferred baseball over softball despite the challenges that can often present for girls.
"I've always played baseball. My brother played it, and seeing my brother play it, I always wanted to play it too," Thompson continues. "Everyone always asks me, 'Why haven't you played softball?' It's just never appealed to me as much as baseball has."
The MacGregor native says when she was at a game a few years back, someone told her about Manitoba's female provincial baseball program, and Thompson says she's been a part of the squad ever since.
Thompson is set to play in three different national events this year, one of which already took place in Stonewall. She says they placed seventh in the tournament but adds it was an amazing event to be a part of.
"It was pretty fun. It was mostly about meeting my team, all the other teams, seeing the girls who have played on Team Canada, and getting to play against all of them. That was pretty fun."
While she is heading out to St. John's, Newfoundland for the U21 Women's Invitational Championships in a little under two weeks, Thompson is also a part of the U16 Team Manitoba. Taking place later in the month, the pitcher believes her experience with the older players should give her a leg up on the competition.
"I think it'll help me out a lot. Playing with older girls and going down to a younger level should make me more experienced, at least I'd hope so."
Not only is Thompson playing at this level for female baseball, she also took part in the boys' provincial tournament a few weeks back. The local outlines what she likes better about playing alongside women.
"Playing with all boys is a completely different experience. They definitely throw a lot harder than a lot of girls do but then when you play against the girls, some of them are unreal players. I look up to a lot of these talented women," says Thompson. "With the boys, all of them can kind of do the same things, so it isn't as interesting to see."
Thompson has been able to take a lot away from playing with very talented women four years older than her and adds she's extremely excited for their next event on August 11.