TRU WolfPack baseball head coach Ray Chadwick was starting to think his athletic genes were not relayed to his son.
As a child, Tyrelle lacked co-ordination and the love for sports that allowed his father to reach the Major League Baseball ranks and enjoy a multi-sport post-secondary career down south.
Sydney Leroux, Ray’s daughter and Tyrelle’s half-sister, was on her way to winning gold at the Olympics and a World Cup title with the U.S. national soccer team. Sydney also had sports DNA help from her mother, Sandi, who played third base for the Canadian national softball team.
Tyrelle, whose mother, Candice, was a cheerleader, was taller than most students his age at Westmount elementary. With that type of size and what seemed a likely pre-disposition to athletics, it would have been a shame not to explore those natural gifts.
The Chadwicks decided to go off the board with their next move, a step that helped Tyrelle chasse into one of the top prospects on the Kamloops sports scene: they put him into dance.
“We actually put him in dancing to help with his flexibility and his co-ordination and all of that stuff,” Ray said. “And he loved it. He danced at Sista’s [Love to Dance Studio] from when he was six to 12, hip-hop and jazz mostly.”
By Grade 7, Tyrelle had reached man-child status, towering above classmates and owning opposition on the basketball court and flag football field.
“His ability on the basketball court was second to none, but funnily enough, what I remember most about Tyrelle is his amazing sense of rhythm,” said Carolyn Eagles, who taught Tyrelle in Grade 5 and was his music teacher in Grades 6 and 7.
“He was in all our talent shows. He really caught on very quickly to any choreography that we did. I could always count on him being a real role model to the other kids. He had an amazing attitude and respect for his teachers.”
Tyrelle, who turned 15 on June 22, is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and has developed a rabid appetite for sports, with baseball and basketball scouts taking interest across North America.
“He didn’t have the same athleticism I had at that age,” Ray said. “He worked at it. He really worked at getting better, getting stronger and getting faster. It makes me proud to watch him grow.”
The power forward cracked Team B.C.’s roster for the 15-and-Under Boys National Basketball Championship, which will be held in Kamloops from Aug. 6 to Aug. 11, along with 17-and-under boys nationals.
Tyrelle returned this week from the B.C. Summer Games in Cowichan, where he helped Thompson-Okanagan’s baseball team to a bronze medal.
“I want to be a professional athlete, whether it be in basketball or baseball,” Tyrelle said. “I want to find a way to make money doing what I love.”
In August of 2016, Tyrelle pitched a no-hitter in the provincial championship final, helping the peewee AAA Kamloops RiverDogs to a B.C. baseball title. Last summer, he played for the Okotoks Black Dawgs and won the bantam AAA Alberta baseball championship.
He was named MVP of the junior boys’ division at the 2017 Fulton Cup, pacing Westsyde secondary to a gold medal in the city basketball championship. He will contribute to the Whundas’ senior hoops team as a Grade 10 big man next season.
The plan is to finish high school at Westsyde before heading to the U.S., where he would like to follow in dad’s footstep and become a multi-sport athlete.
Ray declined to sign with the Atlanta Braves out of high school, opting instead to play both football and basketball in college. He spent time at Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State before pursuing pro baseball and pitching briefly for the California Angels in 1986.
Most of Tyrelle’s exposure to scouts has come in baseball at provincial and national tournaments, the likes of which are not available to junior basketball players at Westsyde secondary.
The list of NCAA Division 1 schools taking interest in Tyrelle is growing. Oregon State, Indiana State, USC and UCLA have already been in contact with Ray.
Tyrelle and Sydney don’t often speak, but he is well aware of her accomplishments on the pitch. The 28-year-old forward now plays for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League.
“It’s pretty intimidating, to be completely honest,” Tyrelle said. “I know I have a lot to stack up to, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Football coaches in this town are likely salivating over Tyrelle, but Westsyde Blue Wave and Kamloops Broncos bench bosses will be disappointed to hear he is sticking to baseball and basketball.
“The idea of getting injured in a sport I wouldn’t take as seriously as baseball or basketball just scares me a little bit,” Tyrelle said.
Ray said his son aims to play both basketball and baseball until forced into making a decision between the two.
So, which does he like better?
“I’m honestly not sure,” Tyrelle said. “I’ve been getting this question for a really long time and I still don’t really have an answer. I feel like I have a higher ceiling in baseball, but I really don’t prefer one sport or the other.”
Dad was asked about Tyrelle’s potential in both sports.
“If had to pick, I could see him playing baseball somewhere,” Ray said. “Basketball is a lot tougher. There’s a lot more athleticism coming along now. Everybody can shoot the three. Everybody can dribble.
“Baseball would be an easier path, but with him I really have no idea. It’ll be about what he puts into it.”
Kamloops Track and Field Club coach Dylan Armstrong, who won a bronze medal in shot put at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, would surely like to woo Tyrelle to the Tournament Capital Centre throws pit.
Tyrelle had minimal practise before the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in Langley in the spring, but finished seventh in shot put and eighth in discus, competing against athletes in the junior boys’ division who train year-round in the disciplines.
“I watch his development,” Ray said. “He has the size for whatever he wants to do. That’s something I didn’t have.”
The kid is also fairly fleet of foot for a big fella.
“He heard the story of why we put him in dance and he goes, ‘You put me in dance because you thought I was clumsy? I love dance,'” Ray said with a laugh.
Added Tyrelle: “Dance was a big help. It really helped with my footwork, helped with my balance and made me a lot quicker and lighter on my feet.”
Kamloops sports fans may want to two-step over to the TCC for basketball nationals next month.
Tyrelle can’t wait for the recital.
“I’m looking forward to just being able to go against the top athletes in this country and being able to see how I stack up against the top players,” he said.
“I don’t feel that much pressure playing sports. I know people are watching. I just do what I need to do. I just try to remember that this is what I’ve been doing for a long time now.”