Madeline Gillis will be taking her fastpitch career east next fall.
The Richmond standout has signed with Ryerson University in Toronto for the next four years following an extensive recruiting process.
What began with enquiries from 61 schools on both sides of the border back in 2018, Gillis’ emphasis on her studies created a shortlist of six potential destinations with four wanting to sign her last September. Impressed with Ryerson’s renowned design tech program, she made a verbal commitment to head coach Wayne Nishihama a month later and officially signed with the program on Monday.
The Rams play in the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association with a fall schedule that typically concludes in early October.
What made Gillis an attractive recruit is being as a multi-positional player, capable of playing both infield and outfield — skills she learned while being coached by her dad in her grassroots years with the Richmond Girls Softball Association.
She stayed with the RSGA program through to U12 when her team won the provincial title. She then took her talents to the US for the next four years — playing on two teams and serving as a pick-up at showcase tournaments which are designed to draw the attention of college and university scouts. Along the way, Gillis won a pair of Washington State championships.
At the age of 15 she drew the attention of Tyron McKinney a batting coach with the US women's national team, along with Heather Tarr, head coach and assistant Lance Glasoe at the University of Washington, when she finished second in a senior batting competition. All three would become involved in her further development as a player.
Gillis eventually returned home to focus more on her education and played with the White Rock Renegades. She was joined by two other local players — Emma Perry and Caitlin Bradley-Tse — and won bronze at the 2019 Canadian Championships.
The Grade 12 McMath student is returning to the RGSA for her senior year to play for one of her favourite coaches — Eric Gee — bringing her minor softball career full circle.
Other coaches Gillis credits for her development include Charlotte Dolan (White Rock), Phil Smith (Washington State), along with Tyron, Tarr, coach Lance and her father Dave.
Making friends all over the United States, Canada and Japan has been an amazing experience with far too many girls to mention. She does thank Stacey Stanchek, Ali Agular and Correy Hootch along with other members of the UW women's softball team for always making time for her, answering her questions and serving as mentors.