In a series of interviews, Apt613 contributor and local sports fan Kiersten Vuorimaki speaks with the Ottawa Champions, Ottawa’s CanAm baseball team, as a way to introduce the team to Ottawa, and Ottawa to the team.
“My favourite sound in the world is the crack of the bat on a ball that’s struck hard.”
Ottawa Champions third base coach Jared Lemieux could make a baseball lover out of anyone he meets. The former Ottawa Rapidz outfielder has been with the Champions since the inaugural 2015 season. Not only is he the third base and outfield coach, Lemieux is the team’s in-house hype man, always ready with a smile, a piece of bubblegum, a fist bump, and some dancing.
Jared spent five years in independent baseball after playing for Bowdoin College during his undergrad. He finished his playing career in 2010 with a career batting average of .244 and fielding percentage of .992. His season with the Rapidz was the best of his career, which could be why he jumped at the chance to join Hal Lanier’s coaching squad. This is his first year at third, taking over from the skipper as Lanier prefers to remain in the dugout this season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Apt613: Who was your favourite baseball player growing up?
Jared Lemieux: Ken Griffey Jr, he’s why I wear #24.
Who is your favourite MLB team?
The Red Sox.
What is your favourite sport besides baseball?
Soccer. I’m from Maine, so The New England Revolution (MLS) are my team. I was an all-state soccer player too, I was good at it, so I enjoyed it. I like scoring goals.
Who is the best player you’ve played against?
El Guapo (Rich Garcés). He was a closer for the Red Sox for a long time. He was playing with Nashua (CanAm league 2007-08) when I was in Sussex, and he had off-speed stuff that fooled everybody. He was the toughest arm I had to face.
What is your favourite baseball memory?
Winning the State Championship my senior year. I was catching. Our backup catcher was hurt, so we needed someone to come in. I had caught in Little League, but I’m left handed which is pretty rare in baseball, so I was our starting pitcher. I caught a shutout that night, threw out a kid on third base with the bases loaded and caught strike 3 for the last out. I never caught again.
If you weren’t coaching baseball, what would be your alternate career?
My Master’s Degree is in Sports Management, so if I couldn’t be on the field, I’d want to be in the front office. At the same time, I have run a couple of athletic facilities and that would be my second favourite thing to do.
Where is the best place to play on the road?
Quebec City. There is more energy in that park than any other park. The crack of the bat is more authentic with the acoustics of that stadium.
Do you have any superstitions?
There’s routines. I have certain things I carry with me while I’m coaching, good luck charms. I try to stay away from too many specific superstitions. But there’s certain things you can’t say during the game. You can’t talk about how well they’re doing while they’re out there working. I keep my mouth shut until it’s all over.
After a win, what’s your drink?
I drink a Michelob Ultra with Hal!
Who on the team has the best style?
I’d say Coco (Johnson), or (Jordan) Caillouet. Those two are a pretty dynamic tandem.
What is your favourite sports movie?
Bull Durham. Everybody probably says that, but Kevin Costner is my favourite actor! The other one would be For Love of the Game. It’s got a little love story in there too, a little more tragic. I like that he throws a perfect game. (Spoiler alert!) The baseball in that movie is probably more realistic than anything else. And Major League 1. Those are my top three.
If you were playing now, what would your walk up song be?
Probably “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. I like getting the crowd going, I want to see people shaking it. I draw off energy, so something that people would have fun with.
What is your favourite thing to do in Ottawa on an off day?
I love going to waterparks, I’m a little kid inside, so Calypso.
When new players come to Ottawa, what do you tell them they have to go do?
Eat a Beavertail, they’re fantastic. And get some poutine.
Is there anything that you miss when you’re not in Ottawa?
It’s this. It’s here. It’s the guys. It’s the ballpark. You always want to find a job that puts you in the zone, where you constantly feel competitive, you can lose track of time and you always feel like you’re on an emotional high. I’m lucky to have that feeling every day.
You always want to find a job that puts you in the zone, where you constantly feel competitive, you can lose track of time and you always feel like you’re on an emotional high. I’m lucky to have that feeling every day.
What can Apt613 help you know more about in Ottawa?
The festivals. I need to know what’s going on… Any chance I can get to go out during the day, find something fun to do, that’s where I want to be. Just walking around, trying different foods, that big city, capital experience.
Key Takeaway: Jared Lemieux loves baseball as much as Kanye loves Kanye. Show him some love when you’re at the ballpark, and challenge him to a dance off.
The Ottawa Champions play home games at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (300 Coventry Road) directly off the 417 with access to the Max Keeping pedestrian bridge. Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $5 for youth. Parking is $5, making it the most affordable professional sports event in town. For more, follow @ottawachampions on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.