NANAIMO — Veronica Wong is not just an athlete who's gifted in a number of sports, she's also broken through the gender barrier.
She is the only female player on the Midget AAA College Prep Nanaimo Buccaneers baseball team.
Nanaimo Minor Baseball President Mike Holyk has watched Wong develop her game for many years and to his recollection she's the only female player to ever play on a boys team at the college prep level in Nanaimo.
"It takes I think a lot of mental strength. Inside of the association she's always been treated pretty well by her teammates and peers," Holyk said. "They've respected the fact that she's a great athlete and they haven't seen any difference in her as a teammate, and I think that's given her the confidence to stay with the game. Not only does she aspire to play at the level she's playing here in Nanaimo, but I think ultimately to play for Team Canada at a national level for the women's team."
Later this summer Wong will join the BC Female U21 team, a squad she also won a silver medal with last year at nationals.
That silver medal performance and a .438 batting average earned her an invite to be a part of the BC Senior Women's team for their national tournament.
Holyk said there are more and more opportunities for girls in baseball, where in the past many talented female players transitioned into fast pitch.
"Veronica has stayed with baseball because the opportunity for girls and women's baseball has grown every year. I think she's unique in that she's not only the right athlete but she's also the right athlete at the right time where girls baseball is starting to explode in popularity," Holyk said.
Wong also excels in hockey and basketball. She was the captain of the Midget Female Nanaimo Clippers last season and scored in all four games of her final tournament in Richmond.
In a fitting end to her minor hockey career, she was named the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Graduating Midget Female Player of the Year.
On the basketball court, Wong was one of three players from Nanaimo who was named to the North Island All Star Senior Girls Basketball team.
In a head-to-head game against the South Island All Stars she made a key three pointer to secure a one point victory.
Her many accomplishments made Wong a finalist for a 2017 Nanaimo Sport Achievement Award.
The 17-year-old may well pave the way for other young girls to pursue their athletic goals in Nanaimo.
She is the oldest female player to be playing on a Nanaimo boys team, but Holyk said she isn't the only one.
"We have two other girls who participated at the national championships for Team BC last year at the U16 level and they're part of our Bantam AAA program," he said. "In Nanaimo we have three wonderful role models for young girls to see that if they continue on with baseball there are good opportunities not only in Nanaimo but there's opportunities provincially and hopefully nationally for them."
Holyk said the association plans to promote those success stories in the hope that more young girls will register to play baseball in Nanaimo.
The next home games for Wong and the college prep team are this Saturday and Sunday with doubles headers planned for Serauxmen Stadium at noon.
On twitter: @danmarshall77