Brody Yuzicappi is seen with his parents Lowell Yuzicappi, left, and Andrea Starr, right after the men’s U17 baseball semifinal match between Saskatchewan and Ontario at the #North American Indigenous Games in Toronto on Thursday. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC) When he was born, 15-year-old Brody Yuzicappi had only five per cent of his hearing, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing sports or representing his province of Saskatchewan at this year’s North American #Indigenous Games (#NAIG) in the Men’s under-17 baseball tournament.
"We don’t want his hearing to be a setback for him. Being a part of the team boosts his self-confidence," says Brody’s father Lowell Yuzicappi who is Dakota from Standing Buffalo.
When Brody was six-years-old, his parents enrolled him in a program called Learn to Play, which teaches children the fundamental rules of various sports, and he hasn’t stopped playing since.
"Baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter, that’s what he’s always done," says Lowell.
Despite his hearing impairment, Brody’s parents never held him back from doing what he wanted to when it came to sports.
"Before the NAIG tryouts, there were people who were telling me not to set him up for failure. But I said that I have to give him that opportunity. How are we going to know if he’s going to get picked if we don’t let him try?" says Brody’s mother, Andrea Starr who is Cree from Star Blanket #First Nation, which Brody now represents as well. The Saskatchewan U17 Men’s Baseball team poses for a photo at the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto. (Andrea Starr) Growing up, Brody, who plays both pitcher and right-fielder for his current team, had a lot of support, not only from his parents but also the rest of his community and his coaches who have taught him a lot about teamwork, communication and patience.
"My favourite moment has been just being able to see him play at this level because it’s been 24 years since I played here too," says Starr.
Starr is a two time NAIG veteran and champion. She played softball in the very first NAIG that took place in Edmonton in 1990, and took home silver. Then at the 1993 Games in Prince Albert, Sask., she played volleyball and took home gold. Setting a good example
"It’s really humbling to watch him out there and have him be able to be out there," says Starr.
"We just want other parents to know that there’s lots of resources out there and just to keep encouraging their kids. Just because they have a disability, doesn’t mean they can’t keep going and keep excelling," she says.
"We’ve learned a lot from him by allowing him to do what he wants to do. If he wants to play hockey, we let him. If he doesn’t want to, we don’t force him," says Lowell.
This isn’t the first sports team that Brody has travelled with. He’s been asked to join a number of provincial teams and has travelled to Hudson’s Bay for tournaments and also played club volleyball when he was younger, but then chose to play hockey instead.
He’s travelled with the double ‘A’ Moose Mountain Drillers and the South East Treaty Four team ball club, who he will be joining again to play softball in Regina during the second week of August for the upcoming Saskatchewan summer games.
When asked how his experience at NAIG has been so far, Brody signed to his mom: "I don’t want to go home because I’m having such a great time."
"We’ve always encouraged him to keep moving forward," says his mother, Starr.
The Saskatchewan team will be competing for the Bronze medal Friday […]
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