With the blankets of snow coming in and winter hitting us hard, the softball fastpitch season may feel like it was ages ago. But it wasn't that long ago that the Strathmore Thunder were in action and the U17 team was wearing gold medals after an undefeated season. 17-year-old Tanisha Halvorson was the catcher on the team, and for her stellar play, she was awarded the Player of the Year.

U13 Coach David Sevcik also won the Merit Award Zone 2, which is an award to recognize exceptional dedication to growing the sport and league and commitment to the team. Sevcik's U13 team also had a great year, winning one gold and two silvers.

Halvorson said it felt really good to win the award, and that the support of her coaches went a long way toward helping her hit that level.

"It wouldn't be possible without Tom Clooney (U17 Coach) because he believed in me a lot for the two years that I played for him and he was the one that nominated me for the award," she said.

Clooney has played a huge role in Halvorson's development and love of the sport, but she added she's had help from other coaches as well which has helped her rise to the top so quickly. When she's not playing in Strathmore, Halvorson explained she plays for a 222 league based out of Saskatoon in the winter, which is a very competitive league. Every year she has to try out, and out of around 400 girls only around 150 make it into the league. From this league, Halvorson also works with two coaches who are men's national championship coaches for Team Canada.

With her strong work ethic and amazing support from Coach Clooney and others, Halvorson hopes to keep her softball career going even though she won't be a part of the Thunder next season.

"I've been talking to a few colleges and universities; I recently just visited one down in Chicago for a visit with the softball coaches down there. I'm planning to go for a few more in Texas and Pennsylvania to get a look at their campuses and figure out money wise how much it's going to cost. So I'm hoping to further it in schooling, post secondary, and then soon maybe get on to Team Canada as well which would be cool."

Since she'll be turning 18 before the start of next season, Halvorson won't be playing for the Thunder anymore. Looking back on her final season with them, she said staying undefeated and winning gold was definitely a big highlight of the year, but for her, the time spent with teammates and building connections was equally as great, if not more so.

"When I first started, it was kind of just like people were just there. But then during my second year, the team started coming together on and off the field and we all built a stronger relationship between everyone, especially with the coaches. And having that off the field as well also showed how we could play together and communicate and pick each other up while on the field, which is nice to have."

Even though she won't be a member of the Thunder anymore, you'll still see her on the field as she plans on coaching the U11 team with Coach Clooney. She's excited to coach alongside Clooney, as she has a lot of respect and gratitude for how much he's helped her.

"He's a great man and he cares a lot about his players."

While Halvorson plans on going to the USA for university softball, she'll have at least one more season in Canada, as she'll be playing for the U19 Calgary Adrenaline team before potentially joining a team south of the border. Good luck to Halvorson, and congratulations to both Halvorson and Sevick for their awards and a great season!

Tanisha HalvorsonTanisha Halvorson with her award

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