Julia Jodouin knew she was making waves when she was sitting in class at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School and a notification came up on her phone that Brian Bigger, the mayor of her hometown of Sudbury, Ont., had just tweeted to congratulate her.
Laurentian University announced on Tuesday that the 17-year-old Jodouin had committed to the Voyageurs baseball team for the 2018-19 school year, making her only the second woman to play on a men's team in Canadian varsity history.
"I'm not huge into politics or anything like that, but knowing that this story's being recognized by every kind of person, no matter what they're into whether it's sports, politics, anything like that, is super cool," Jodouin said Thursday.
Samantha Magalas was the first woman to join a men's varsity baseball team in Canada, playing as the starting first baseman for York Lions in 2004.
Brodie Jeffery, Laurentian's head coach, knows Jodouin and her family from Sudbury's baseball community. Putting together the inaugural Voyageurs roster for the upcoming season, he asked Jodouin what her plans were after high school. She said she was torn between Cambrian College and Laurentian, having been accepted to the nursing programs at both schools.
Then he asked if playing ball could tip the scales toward the Voyageurs. It did.
"She's quite the power hitter," said Jeffrey, who plans to start Jodouin at first base. "She's somebody that, offensively, she's pretty gifted. Even defensively she sees the field well. She's just such a positive person, I think the guys will really rally around her positivity."
Jeffery got supportive text messages from other members of the team as soon as word got out about Jodouin's commitment to Laurentian.
"I've gotten a lot of congratulations from everyone," said Jodouin. "It's super amazing just getting all this recognition. I haven't really faced any negative things directly. I've noticed some comments about this being a 'feminist deal' or whatever but that doesn't bother me. Everyone has their opinions. I'm good."
Baseball isn't sport where women have cracked Canadian men's varsity teams. Olympian Kim St-Pierre played in goal with the McGill Redmen hockey team during the 2003-04 season, while Lesley Reddon played goal with the UNB men's team in the 1994-95 season while pursuing a master's degree.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press