Former Tiger driven to outwork others

Hunger fuels Dustin Houle.

  • May. 31, 2011 12:00 p.m.
Langley Blaze’s Dustin Houle is on the radar for next month’s Major League Baseball draft. The 17-year-old left home in Penticton last year to come join the Blaze program.

Langley Blaze’s Dustin Houle is on the radar for next month’s Major League Baseball draft. The 17-year-old left home in Penticton last year to come join the Blaze program.

Gary Ahuja

Black Press

Hunger fuels Dustin Houle.

While he watched his classmates show up to school in name-brand products, money was tight at his house.

“It was tough seeing all the other kids with their luxurious stuff and I had to scrape by to get food in my belly,” the 17-year-old admits.

“I saw the kids with all their stuff and said to myself, “OK, I have to be better than them to get to where I want to go.”

Houle uses this hunger as his motivation.

“It makes me work a lot harder because I know I have to out-work everybody,” he said.

“Just knowing that I don’t come from a lot makes me hungry to get to where I want to be.”

Growing up in Penticton, Houle played plenty of sports, but baseball was his love.

Both his parents played, as did his brother, Jade, who is two years younger.

Wherever there was an open field, Houle would be out there playing, either in a game against kids a couple years older than him, or in the backyard with his family, throwing the ball around.

But even getting into organized baseball was a challenge.

“(We) didn’t have much growing up, it would be hard for me even to pay for baseball, which is a pretty cheap sport to get into it,” Houle said.

The generosity of coaches and sponsors, who helped the family cover registration costs, allowed Houle to suit up every season.

And he definitely showed a knack for the game as a power-hitting third-baseman/catcher for the South Okanagan Tigers, Penticton’s minor baseball association.

But to take the next step, Houle needed to leave home, so last year, he came to Langley and joined the Blaze program.

It wasn’t the easiest decision — Houle’s mom still cries occasionally when she talks to him and fitting in at a new school can be a tough challenge during the teenage years — but it has turned out to be a smart move in terms of the long-term benefits.

As well as being forced to “grow up and take on more responsibility,” Houle was exposed to better competition and more opportunities.

With the Blaze, Houle is batting .288 with five extra-base hits in 18 games. He’s first in the PBL with one home run and 15 RBIs. He has also stolen eight bases and is an outstanding fielder.

Over a full season in 2010, Houle hit .289 with nine extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 42 games and 121 at-bats.

“He is arguably one of our best hitters and one of the best in the country,” said Blaze coach Jamie Bodaly.

Playing in the PBL, considered perhaps the top U18 league across Canada, led to his selection as part of the Canadian junior national team program.

Houle, along with three of his Blaze teammates, has been in the Dominican Republic with the Canadian squad for the past two weeks. They are due back on Friday.

“It’s a big honour to have that Canadian name across your chest,” he said. “No other feeling is better than that.”

Houle also finds himself on the radar for next month’s MLB amateur draft.

One scouting website has him listed as the second-ranked prospect among the 37 Canadian high school players eligible for the June 6 draft.

For his part, Houle is attempting to focus on playing and getting better. He does admit that having scouts watch you can make for difficult times.

“(The scouts) are low key but it is still nerve-wracking at times, a bunch of scouts looking at you,” he said. “A lot of pressure is on.”

And should Houle get drafted but not sign with whichever team selects him, he already has a scholarship to Florida’s Chipola College, one of the top junior college baseball programs in the U.S.

Baseball Canada’s Greg Hamilton said Houle has a chance to be a real solid player, citing his arm strength and bat as his best attributes.

“He takes instruction very well,” the coach said. “And he carries himself like a professional player. I think if he chooses that route, he will play well every day.”

 

Bodaly said that you can tell Houle is committed to improving

his craft.

 

“Baseball is his life, he is dedicated to the game,” he said. “He wants to learn, he wants to get better.”

When he arrived in Langley last season, Houle had the tools, but was very raw.

But through hard work, he has improved to the point he has a scholarship for next season should the pro game not pan out.

Houle remains humble and hard-working, and grateful for the opportunities he has received.

“It feels good to know I have worked hard enough to achieve what I have (so far),” he said.

He is also quick to credit his coaches, past and present, for his success. Especially with the Blaze and their myriad of connections in the baseball world.

 

“It is good to have guys like that in your corner,” Houle said. “Having them as supporters is probably key to where I am

right now.”

 

 

Just Posted

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read