Over the course of the pandemic, Chase Marshall has learned to deal with his fair share of uncertainty.
Like many young athletes, he had to adjust on the fly in the early stages of the pandemic as sports leagues were shut down and training was next to impossible – “I went on some runs, or did jump squats in my garage,” he said of his attempts to stay in shape – but more recently, the 17-year-old Earl Marriott Secondary student and star pitcher with the White Rock Tritons also had to contend with something else: charting his university future.
Locking down a post-secondary scholarship isn’t something he’s had to worry about for awhile – Marshall committed the University of Washington back when he was in Grade 10.
COVID-19, however, changed everything.
As a result of the pandemic wiping out entire baseball seasons, the NCAA granted current players an extra year of eligibility, which in the case of Washington’s baseball team, meant the entire roster was full of returnees, and would be for the foreseeable future.
“None of their guys really left, there was literally no room for new people, so I just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go find a different place to play next year,” Marshall said.
And while that can be an uneasy place for a young athlete to be, Marshall – who is also a member of Canada’s junior national team – is embracing the opportunity to explore his options.
“It’s kind of cool to be back out there, it’s been kind of fun to see what options I have. And it just pushes me even more, because now I’ve got to fight for a new home and try to find somewhere to play for the next few years of my life,” he said, adding that he’s confident he’ll find a landing spot soon.
“I’ve talked to lots of teams,” he said.
If Marshall allowed any worries to creep into his mind – or simply had questions about the process of advancing to a higher level of sport, he has no shortage of family members to lean on.
His mom, Carrie Flemmer Marshall, was a catcher on Canada’s national softball team at the 1996 Olympics; his father, Rob, was a competitive swimmer; his grandfather, Art, played junior hockey and was drafted by the Boston Bruins; his uncle – well-known Semiahmoo Peninsula softball coach Chuck Westgard – played minor-league baseball in the New York Yankees system, and a bevy of Marshall’s cousins played collegiate softball and hockey.
“My family has a great history in sports, and it’s really cool because I have so many people (to talk to),” Marshall said. “It’s definitely helped me a lot throughout my life.”
Despite his family’s obvious baseball and softball roots, he said his parents never pressured him to pick up a baseball glove.
“My parents put me in everything when I was younger. I played soccer, hockey – I even did taekwondo – and then baseball,” he said. “Eventually, I just gravitated towards baseball.”
Marshall and his Tritons teammates are currently in the thick of the BCPBL schedule, though he’ll take a brief break from the PBL next week when he heads to the Dominican Republic with the national program for a handful of games against Dominican League teams, which are chock full of young talent and affiliated with Major League Baseball clubs.
Marshall is in his third season with the Tritons’ U18 team – though it’s his first in which the club will play a full, official BC Premier Baseball League schedule – and before that, he was a member of the White Rock team that won a Canadian championship and played at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Marshall earned plenty of attention during the prestigious tournament – especially after hitting two home runs in a single game against Italy.
And though he can clearly hit, the South Surrey teen is now focusing his attention solely on pitching. A few weeks ago, while in Florida with the Canadian junior squad, his fastball hit 92 miles per hour, and he said he hopes to hit the 94 m.p.h. mark by the time this season ends.
“I think it’s pretty attainable,” he said.
Kyle Dhanani, the general manager of the Tritons program, agreed that Marshall should be able to hit whatever goal he’s set for himself, be it a number on a radar gun or finding a new NCAA home.
“Chase has had a good upward path from the beginning – he’s always just put his head down and worked. He’s always kept a good mindset, even when something like the (University of Washington) didn’t work out, and he’s worked hard enough these last couple years that I think he’s only going to continue to grow and get better,” he said.
“If he has a goal in mind, he’s gonna reach it.”
In the meantime, he’ll continue to lean on the advice his mom most often gives him.
“She always says, ‘Leave it all out there.’ If I ever come off the field and I know I could’ve done more, then that’s the only regret I should ever have. She’s always just pushed me to try my best.”