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She couldn’t find a girls baseball team for her daughter, so she started a league of her own

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Where most people see obstacles, Dana Bookman sees opportunities.

So she didn’t mope or complain in early 2016 when her daughter, Noa Rae O’Neill, found herself the only girl among more than 400 kids registered for their local youth baseball league. Nor did she indulge her daughter’s initial urge to quit baseball and switch to another sport.

Instead, Bookman, who had no baseball experience until her two kids started playing, spread the word on Facebook that she needed four or five other girls and a coach to practise baseball along with her daughter. Then she upgraded her ambition, figuring 10 girls would make actual mini-games possible.

Word spread faster and interest ran deeper than Bookman anticipated. By that June, more than 40 girls had participated in Toronto Girls Baseball. In August, the program, with founder Bookman functioning as CEO, finished its third summer in Toronto. It also expanded to Halifax and Winnipeg this past summer.

Bookman never imagined becoming a leader in the local baseball community, but she just couldn’t stop herself from fashioning opportunity from a problem. Either way, the program she founded is transforming the way Canadian girls think about baseball, and helping change the gender balance in a traditionally male sport.

“(Noa Rae) was about to quit, but she stuck with it and learned you can do it,” said Bookman, who is currently on leave from her full-time job as a producer at CBC. “(Baseball) gave her so much confidence. Whether she chooses to be a baseball player or something else, that’s something she’ll carry with her forever. To me, that’s what this is about.”

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Participation numbers have swelled since Toronto Girls Baseball’s inaugural summer — up to 350 in year two and more than 500 this past summer. This year’s edition needed 10 diamonds at five different city parks to accommodate rapid growth, Bookman says. And beyond just teaching girls the sport, it let them play. Toronto Girls Baseball fielded five competitive teams this summer, and hosted a 15-team tournament that featured a squad visiting from Arizona.

Bookman had no previous background in baseball. She earned a bachelor’s degree in African Studies from Queen’s and another in Journalism from Ryerson, but the 43-year-old’s current public profile is linked to her girls’ baseball advocacy.

Last year, she made the Canadian Baseball Network’s list of most influential Canadians in the sport, outranking several agents, coaches and active big-league players.

And earlier this year, she was named an RBC Woman of Influence, thanks to her leadership of a program whose enrolment ballooned more than 800 per cent in its first two years.

Baseball stakeholders say the program’s rapid growth highlights a latent demand for girls’ baseball that had gone unmet until Bookman intervened.

“I was surprised at the numbers on the field but not surprised it grew so fast. I know there were girls out there,” says Murray Carr, father of national team member and Toronto Girls Baseball coach Emma Carr. “Yes, it’s baseball but the drive behind it is the empowerment of girls. Anything that’s not ballet or something, you’re looked down on. (Toronto Girls Baseball) has turned that around.”

While producing world-class athletes isn’t Bookman’s priority, Baseball Canada executive André Lachance says the program serves as a critical intake point for a national women’s baseball team with ambitious plans.

In August, Team Canada finished third at the Women’s Baseball World Cup, trailing champion Japan and runner-up Chinese Taipei, and defeating the U.S. in the bronze medal game.

The result might not represent an improvement in absolute performance — Canada took silver in the 2016 World Cup. But in relative terms, given the growing popularity of women’s baseball worldwide, Lachance says Canada’s program has made noticeable progress. In 2004, only five teams contested the World Cup. This year, 12 teams participated, and Lachance says up-and-coming programs in countries like Mexico and Argentina could provide an even deeper field for the 2020 tournament.

Lachance, who managed Canada’s World Cup team, says international success starts with making baseball accessible and appealing to as many girls as possible, and that grassroots programs like Bookman’s foster opportunities at higher levels of the sport.

“The first experience in baseball, if it’s not positive, they’ll switch over to another sport,” said Lachance, now Baseball Canada’s business and sport development director. “The greater the pool of athletes we have, the greater chance we have to have better athletes at the national team level.”

Registration numbers show men’s and women’s participation tend to rise and fall together. In 2014, according to Baseball Canada, there were 11,943 registered female players nationwide, compared with 102,615 males. The following year, participation among both groups dipped sharply — 8,179 females and 92,672 males registered in Baseball Canada-affiliated leagues in 2015.

By 2016, enrolment figures rebounded, with 105,799 males and 11,546 females registered nationwide. Last year, male participation continued to climb, with 113,206 registered players, while female players’ numbers levelled off at 11,523, with approximately 75 per cent of them participating in men’s or mixed-gender leagues.

When men’s registration jumped in 2016, Baseball Canada issued a news release crediting the Blue Jays 2015 playoff run — capped by José Bautista’s monster home run and signature bat flip against the Texas Rangers — with attracting young players.

Bookman points out that the Blue Jays’ influence on prospective new baseball players crosses gender lines.

“Girls want to be like the Blue Jays just as much as boys want to be like the Blue Jays,” Bookman said. “It’s a different sport. It’s fun and it’s social.”


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Emma Carr stars on Ryerson’s softball team, but considers the sport — with its bigger ball, smaller diamond and underhand pitching — her hobby. Baseball is her craft and her first sporting choice, but Ryerson, like many North American universities, doesn’t have a women’s program. As a second-year undergrad, she has learned to balance both sports, playing softball for her university and baseball for the national team.

She says Bookman’s program, where she started out as a coach in the summer of 2016, will give successive generations of female players the tools to navigate both baseball and softball instead of making a premature choice between them.

“It’s really important, especially for baseball, because a lot of girls get discouraged from playing,” said Carr, who played in the World Cup in August. “A lot of girls get forced into softball, and it’s a different sport.”

Baseball Canada, too, has recognized the importance of actively recruiting female baseball talent instead of hoping standout players cross over from softball. Lachance points out that while some top Canadian women’s players also play softball, the program relies on players who prioritize baseball.

And by the summer of 2017, Bookman’s initiative had attracted the attention of Baseball Canada executives, who invited her to give a presentation at the organization’s annual convention. By the end of the event, Bookman had received queries from baseball officials in Nova Scotia and Manitoba, hoping she could duplicate her program there. Bookman says 150 girls enrolled in a summer program in Halifax, while 60 more played this spring in Winnipeg.

In every city where her girls’ baseball programs have taken root, Bookman says she sees benefits that reach beyond the diamond. The statistical reality is that very few players will duplicate Carr’s success. Last year, nearly 12,000 girls and women registered to play baseball in Canada, but the World Cup roster contained just 20 players.

But Bookman says the confidence that comes with learning new skills and implementing them in a team setting will benefit program participants no matter how far they pursue baseball.

“The best players fail seven out of 10 times and your team has to be there for you,” Bookman said. “We’re teaching girls how to win, how to lose. We’re teaching girls resilience. We’re teaching them empathy.”


Historically, advances in women’s baseball happen in response to manpower shortages in the sport’s mainstream.

During the Second World War, more than 500 major leaguers, including stars like Ted Williams, joined the U.S. armed forces, boosting the war effort but creating a significant talent drain. Into that void stepped the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which operated teams in the Midwestern U.S., and later inspired the 1992 movie A League of Their Own.

And in the 1950s, as the racial integration of Major League Baseball gutted Negro League rosters, three different women succeeded in suiting up for Negro League teams. Nearly a decade after the all-white AAGPBL denied her a tryout, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson signed with the previously all-male Indianapolis Clowns.

“I’m glad (the AAGPBL) turned me down,” Johnson told The New York Times in 2010. “To know that I was good enough to (play) with these gentlemen made me the proudest woman in the world.”

More than 60 years later, it’s still newsworthy when a woman earns a spot on a men’s pro team. Five different women played minor league baseball alongside men in 2017.

But Bookman’s long-term goal is to normalize a sport still often treated as a novelty.

Story Behind the Story delivers insights into how the Star investigates, reports, and produces stories.

As her network of girls’ programs grows, Bookman hopes to impress upon participants that girls’ baseball isn’t a dead-end sport. Even with a dearth of college and university women’s baseball programs, Bookman says Carr’s career path — national team baseball and university softball — points the way for the handful of girls who develop into elite women’s players.

But more immediately, Bookman wants her initiative to expand from three cities into a national grid of girls’ baseball programs. That women and girls account for just 9.2 per cent of registered players in Canada isn’t a problem for Bookman. It’s an opportunity to narrow the gender gap and make a tradition-bound sport more inclusive.

“Baseball is a tool for me for something I’ve become really passionate about,” Bookman said. “I’m passionate about empowering these girls through the sport of baseball.”

The Star is profiling 12 Canadians who are making our lives better. Next week we talk to Indigenous law trailblazer John Borrows.

Morgan Campbell is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @MorganPCampbell



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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