A dedicated volunteer for the last 13 years, Carey Ashton coaches kids from all over the area as part of NDG Baseball’s elite Lynx program. Not only has Ashton led a handful of teams to national championship tournaments and won a title with McGill, he has done all this while fighting muscular dystrophy.

With that in mind, one of his players, Alex Carmel, was inspired to nominate Ashton for the nation-wide Chunky Soup Most Valuable Coach award.

Carey Asthon & Alex Carmel; Carmel nominated Ashton, his baseball coach, for the 2010 Chunky Soup Most Valuable Coach award (Photo: Jan Sauvé-Frankel)

On Monday Chunky announced Ashton as one of six finalists.

“I [nominated] Carey because he’s been very important in my life; if I hear people talk about perseverance, inspiration, or respect, I think of him,” Carmel said.

“Not only does he teach all you need about baseball, Carey also teaches us about respect and to never give up.”

Ashton was flattered.

“It’s a tremendous honour, and I think it’s also a reflection of the organizations I coach for. I’m proud to be with NDG and McGill,” he said.

“I think my players see how difficult it is for me sometimes just getting to the field, so they give me a little more. I believe they look past my disability and I hope that’s a lesson that stays with them. We all give a lot to our kids, and I guess Alex felt he could give something back to me.”

MVC’s Elissa Zaks spoke to why Ashton was chosen.

“Carey was selected because he embodied our values of courage, determination, and overcoming challenges, as well as leadership and dedication,” she said.

“This is an opportunity to recognize coaches who make a real difference in the lives of others both on and off the field.”

For Ashton, winning the MVC award would simply be icing on the coaching cake.

“When I’m coaching, I get to look beyond my own disability. I feel like any other coach and I don’t really feel I have any limitations. It gives me a degree of normalcy,” he said.

“I have to get all my points across with words only, so I’ve worked very hard on my communication skills and I’ve used my condition to help motivate the kids. Hopefully they learn about things like dedication and perseverance from my example.”

Another of Ashton’s players, Jack Melkerson, explained why he thinks his coach should win.

“I think Carey’s best quality as a coach is his undying desire to be the best he can for his players. Showing up to every practice on time, showing up to every game, giving us all he has left in his tank – he’s been my mentor on and off the field for the last five years and I wouldn’t change that for anything,” Melkerson said. “I know we’ll stay in touch for the rest of our lives and I think that says a lot about a coach.

“Carey should win the MVC award because there is no coach in this world who has given as much as he has to his teams. No coach loves baseball more than Carey. He’s a great [example] for all disabled people to show them that you can overcome their disabilities and live life just like everybody else. Carey is the prime candidate for MVC; he’s one of the most amazing, strongest men I have ever met in my life.”

For Carmel, nominating his coach was a no-brainer.

“When we’re at practice busting our butts and some are complaining, all we have to do is look over at Carey and think ‘he’s the one who should be complaining, but he hasn’t once’ – that alone can motivate just about anybody. The special thing, however, is that he teaches us teamwork, respect and values we can hold onto for the rest of our lives.”

The Chunky MVC winner will receive $20,000 for his local sports organization.

Vote for Carey now at http://www.chunkymvc.ca/coachFinalist/3396.

You can always reach me at noahsidel@gmail.com.