Coaching fills competitive void

Langley Blaze coach Jamie Bodaly listens to an explanation from the umpires during a Premier Baseball League game over the summer. The 28-year-old had his playing days cut short by Crohn’s disease, but coaching has filled that void. - Garrett James/Langley Times
Langley Blaze coach Jamie Bodaly listens to an explanation from the umpires during a Premier Baseball League game over the summer. The 28-year-old had his playing days cut short by Crohn’s disease, but coaching has filled that void.
— image credit: Garrett James/Langley Times

While Jamie Bodaly loved playing baseball and hockey, he is equally happy being a coach.

Sports have always played a key role in his life, but health problems robbed him of that.

The first roadblock was when he was 17 and he broke his collarbone in a car accident.

Forced to the sidelines, he turned to coaching, helping out one of his former coaches, Lloyd Watt, with the North Langley Jr. Little League team.

That taste of coaching would come in handy.

After recovering from the collarbone, and with hockey now in season, Bodaly was rapidly losing weight.

At one point, he was down to 112 pounds and was told by his concerned team, the junior B Grandview Steelers, that they would not allow him to suit up any more.

Bodaly, who wound up dropping 60 pounds, found himself spending most of his days bed-ridden, but he always made the effort to go out for his baseball coaching obligations.

“I was pale, like a ghost,” he said. “Coaching is the only thing that kept me going.

“I had nothing else really to look forward to.”

“The game got taken away from me,” he said. “I didn’t really have a choice.”

Finally, in 2002, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Doctors found a major blockage in his intestines and holes in his bladder. Surgery removed most of his small intestine and rectum as well as fixed holes in his bladder.

Throughout the ordeal, he remained positive and upbeat.

“I just tried to have a good attitude about it,” he explained. “There was no point dwelling on it.”

“I am just lucky, they told me I was going to have a colonoscopy bag the rest of my life,” he added.

His illness cost him more than just a chance to play.

“He could run, he could hit, he played the game hard,” said Langley Blaze general manager Doug Mathieson, who coached Bodaly briefly.

“Unfortunately, Crohn’s struck him just at the point he was probably ready to get a scholarship.”

After Bodaly was robbed of the chance to play the game south of the border, Mathieson convinced him to keep playing and after graduating from Walnut Grove Secondary in 2001, he played college baseball for the Kwantlen Eagles.

Bodaly was an outfielder and catcher, later switching to first base because of a troublesome shoulder, which required a pair of surgeries.

He excelled with the Eagles, but his body would not allow a long-term return to his competitive playing days.

“My body broke down because I was on steroids for my stomach and it just deteriorated my bones,” he said.

“It just wasn’t fun anymore, so I was ready to go coach.”

He eventually gave up playing and turned to coaching in 2003 with the Jr. Blaze program, perhaps the top program in all of Canada for high school-aged baseball players.

Bodaly has worked his way through the Blaze ranks and is now head coach of the Premier team.

“He loves the game and has passion and anyone who loves the game will stay on the field,” Mathieson said.

“He is intense, he is passionate about the game and he wants to get the most out of his players and he does.”

While he misses playing, coaching helps fill the competitive void he is seeking.

“I love playing but not how your body feels after,” he said. “It is nice to compete (this way) but not have your body sore.”

In addition to coaching, Bodaly also works as a Western Canada scout for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals, something he thoroughly enjoys and would love to do full-time.

Bodaly also recently completed his level 3 coaching certificate, which means he can coach any level in Canada.

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