US Women's National Team forward and daughter of a Major Leaguer comes back to baseball roots
By Dylan Hornik
In an uplifting message to girls across the country on Monday night, U.S. Women's National Team forward and women's sports advocate Sydney Leroux became the fifth woman to be enshrined in the Little League Hall of Excellence.
Leroux has helped the USWNT to a pair of gold medals since her debut with the senior team in 2012. She also plays for FC Kansas City of the National Women's Soccer League and has played in the league since its inception in 2013.
"I'm a huge baseball fan," Leroux said after her induction. "My husband [Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer] doesn't really understand baseball, but I'm trying to get him into it a little more because I want our son to play. It's a great sport."
The newest member of the Little League Hall of Excellence - @sydneyleroux!
Although she plays soccer for the United States, Leroux actually hails from British Columbia, where she began her athletic career -- believe it or not -- in baseball, playing for the Whalley Little League team. Her squad fell just short of the Little League World Series, losing in the 2002 Canada Region championship game.
"I was the only girl on my team," Leroux said. "Me and my friends, who all played for Whalley Little League, we grew up together on the diamond. They were like family to me, and I was the sister of the group. It was an amazing experience, and I still love the game.
"I think there is a place for girls in baseball, especially in Little League. I think if I can inspire a girl to want to play with the boys, and feel equal, that's really special to me."
Since Leroux's days on the diamond, female participation in baseball has risen exponentially. In April, MLB partnered with softball legend Jennie Finch to host the inaugural Trailblazer Series, a baseball tournament in which eight teams comprised entirely of girls took to the diamond to play America's pastime.
And Mo'ne Davis -- who made waves in 2014 when she dominated the competition at the LLWS -- recently pitched her Philadelphia Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team to the Junior Division championship. She tossed five innings of one-run ball to stave off elimination and send the squad into the championship tilt.
The 27-year-old Leroux boasts a big league pedigree. Her mom, Sandi, played third base for the Canadian National Softball Team and is a significant inspiration for Leroux's championing young female athletes.
Leroux's father, Ray Chadwick, is a Durham, N.C., native who pitched for the Angels during the 1986 season. The right-handed pitcher registered seven starts for a team that came within one strike of reaching its first World Series. Chadwick now serves as the head coach of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
Although her dad made his mark on the West Coast in his MLB days, Leroux said she roots for a big league team much closer to her new home in Kansas City.
"I would have to say I'm a Royals fan now," she said. "I went to Game 6 and Game 7 in [the 2014 World Series]."
Leroux, who took a break from scoring in each of her last two games for Kansas City to attend the Little League festivities, became the second Canada-born Hall of Excellence inductee, joining former Quebec Little Leaguer and NHL All-Star Pierre Turgeon, who gained entry in 2007. She will be joined by Champ Pederson and Angel Macias as this year's honorees.
"I know [this honor] means so much to my family, and it means a lot to me," Leroux said. "Baseball was a huge part of my life, so I'm glad I get to circle around back to it."
The Little League World Series runs through Sunday.
Dylan Hornik is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.