16U Manager & Infield Coordinator
Bringing college and professional infield experience to the Great Lake Canadians fold, Jeff Helps adds a level of enthusiasm and enjoyment to the program that might only be matched by his colleagues, as the organization’s Infield Coordinator and manager of the 17U team.
He began playing travel baseball when he was seven years old in Wyoming, Ontario, and won a pee wee championship in the Ontario Baseball Association in 1995. In his final two years of high school, he played for the Sarnia Braves, with whom he capped off his secondary career with a AA OBA championship in 2003.
Heading to St. Clair Community College after high school, he spent two years with the Skippers, and playing summer baseball with the 22U Michigan Bulls, he won a National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series championship in 2005. From there, he joined the Chippewas at Central Michigan University, finishing his collegiate career at the Division-I school.
The Wyoming-born middle infielder played summer ball for the Sanford Mainers in 2007, joined the London Majors in 2008, and then played professionally for the Kansas City T-Bones, Kalamazoo Kings, and Quebec Capitales. With the Capitales, Helps won three Canadian American Association championships, and was named a Can Am League all-star shortstop in 2012.
He began his foray into coaching as an instructor at Centrefield Sports in 2009, feeling as though he fell into it helping others as he continued to prepare for his own seasons of professional baseball. Teaching classes and doing lessons at Centrefield were an introduction to the coaching side of the game, and the first team he ever led was in an indoor league in 2011, for rookie, mosquito and pee wee teams, when the bigger facility opened up.
Right away, he loved it, and it opened up the possibility of moving forward in his coaching career when he was done playing. He began to approach that idea in 2013, finishing up his last championship season in Quebec City, and was asked by his now-GLC colleagues if he would be interested in coaching if they started a program.
In some ways, Helps has felt that as players, he and his teammates were always coaching, whether it meant working on their own skills and trying to get better, or making attempts to help their teammates improve individually, and working together toward a bigger end goal. Though the dynamic is different when he is no longer playing between the white lines, he believes that he has been fortunate to have a lot of great managers and coaches throughout his career, who he has learned from and relies on, helping become the coach he is and continues to strive to be every day.
Joining Great Lake in its inaugural year, Helps wanted to help kids learn more about life and themselves, as they progress and grow. He uses Centrefield and the GLC program as a vehicle to allow young players to become better people, hopefully assisting them along the way. He believes that baseball can be a great teacher for life skills, and can support them in becoming the best versions of themselves. He understands that playing sports can be a roller coaster ride, especially baseball, but he knows that if players give their all, it can become a fantastic adventure.
With the Canadians, Helps has the ability to have fun every day while working, and enjoys that the program gives players a chance to grow as people, and that he is involved in helping to create a strong foundation at the start of their very own adventures.