Growing up on the Islands, Coming Inland for College Ball!
Hawks Add Some Filipino Flavour to the Mix!
Son of Famous Filipino Set to Shine at RE/MAX Field
by Pam Lasuita
It's second nature for third baseman Jakob Poturnak to find himself in the spotlight.
The Canadian-born Filipino-raised boy is the son of British Columbian businessman Brian Poturnak and celebrated Philippines actress, model, singer and social media star, Ina Raymundo. “Fans would always come up to her when we were out but growing up it never really bothered me,” says the 18-year-old Poturnak. “I always thought it was kind of a cool thing that people were intrigued with the work of my mom and our family.“
“Jakob is so approachable,” says his famous mom, Ina, from the Philippines. “When people would ask for pictures he never complained. And that’s why he is so lovable. He’s is getting noticed in the Phillippines as a celebrity - people want to know more about him now than me,” she laughs, ”but he never lets it get to his head. He is still such a nice, humble kid.”
The famous actress adds, “We are so excited for Jakob. He’s always loved baseball and been so dedicated. I've always dreamed of something big for him - that’s what moms do - and I would tell him when he was a little boy he could become a professional baseball player one day. Now it’s wonderful to see he’s one step closer to that dream.”
It’s easy to see why the focus is swinging to the strapping 6-foot 1-inch infielder. Jakob currently attends Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he plays for the Xavier Musketeers in NCAA Division 1. Seeing his potential, the Edmonton Riverhawks quickly snapped him up for the 2023 season..
“I’m really glad to have this opportunity to play for the Riverhawks and do everything I can to help the team win,” the talented athlete says. “That’s the goal – work hard, play hard and have some fun at the stadium.”
Jakob struck up a passion and love for the game as a young boy in Manila after his parents met, married and raised their growing family in the Philippines.
His dad, Brian, first introduced Jakob to T-Ball before progressing to Little League. Ball diamonds were pretty sparse so his dad rented space in a warehouse and organized a baseball clinic so kids could learn about playing the sport. He also built an enclosed bullpen for Jackob to focus on pitching and hitting.
“Jakob used to be so tiny,” admits his mom. “He was quite a bit smaller than everyone else in grade school. This would concern him and he would try to jump to reach the ceiling to help him grow taller - and he did it! Despite his height, he could jump so high and would reach the ceiling. It was amazing!”
Ina adds, “I also remember his very first drill when he was five years old, it was holding a towel with a ball inside and he would just keep hitting a glove with it like that over and over. Whenever my husband taught him a new drill he would always try it and never question it. He was a very coachable kid like he is now.”
Of his young baseball experience Jakob reflects, “There was always good competition in the Philippines. Everyone seems to mature there at a young age. It is a simpler way of playing the game there though; they focus on the basics of making contact with the ball, and they approach practises a bit differently than they do in Canada.”
Jakob attended the International School of Manila and continued to have fun on the diamond as a teen. “Being small, at around age 13, I really noticed my strength increasing and how working on biomechanics helped me a lot. I started travelling to the US to play and was surprised that I was as good as I was compared to the American players and thought maybe I could do a lot more with what I have.”
The power hitter ended up growing big and tall, and played for the North Shore Twins in Vancouver, where his father, Brian, was born. He earned a spot on the Canadian Junior National Team before accepting his college scholarship to Xavier University in the United States.
Jakob credits his success to hard work and the support he has from his whole family. “I owe a lot to my dad. He’s really been there for me and given me lots of input on the baseball side of things. My mom might not be as much on the sporty side,” he smiles, “but she is my emotional support and my biggest fan; she used to come to the games and watch them and cheer me on all the time, so it’s great.”
“She definitely inspires me a lot,” the business major adds, “she didn’t come from a wealthy family; she’s worked very hard building a career from little to nothing and all of that is very, very inspiring.” The respect is equally returned by his proud mom Ina who affectionately refers to Jakob as her “Sonshine” and often shares his amazing accomplishments on her famous Instagram page.
“I would sing “You are My Sunshine” to him when he was little, as he is my only son, and makes me so happy,” says Ina. “ He’s a mama’s boy and always will be. He’s so special and so strong - he used to hit the baseball thousands and thousands and thousands of times after school, and when he went to Div 1 baseball and they had all the intense training - it was nothing to him. So I just know with his hard work he will be very successful and go places.”
Jakob has a strong bond with his four sisters, as well, who were involved in sports like soccer and softball as kids. He has fond memories of playing catch outside with his older sister, Erika, back home. “It’s been very helpful, knowing where I came from and that my whole family will always be behind my back throughout my journeys.”
Along the way, Jakob encountered some fun, unexpected adventures. “For Little League tournaments in the Philippines we would sometimes fly in to remote islands,” explains Jakob. “And a lot of times there was just a patch of grass that they would throw some bases on and play baseball games in a farmer’s field. It was kind of funny having cows in the outfield or pigs wandering around out of their pens,” he adds. “But you would just play around them, or hop over the animals to get to the ball,” he laughs.
It sounds like Jakob will be right at home in agricultural Alberta! While it might not be as exotic as South East Asia, he is looking forward to this new chapter in his baseball career, in a new city, in the lush Edmonton River Valley. “I’ve never been to Edmonton, but from the photos that I’ve seen it looks amazing,” says the rookie Riverhawk. “I’m really excited to check it all out.”
Jakob’s family members are also looking forward to cheering him on at RE/MAX Field, as they often spend summer vacation and holiday time in BC. “Canada is my second home,” he says.. “So that’s another reason why I wanted to come to Edmonton - it’s definitely nice to be closer to family members there.”
There’s even a chance you’ll see Jakob’s famous mom Ina Raymundo in the stands this season! “We absolutely love Canada, especially in the summer! We are coming out to see Jakob play and celebrate Canada Day July 1, and the Filipino Fun Day on July 2 at the Riverhawks game. I am really looking forward to meeting the Filipino community!” Ina says. “There’s even talk of me throwing out the first pitch, so I’ll have to start practising,” she adds, flexing her arm enthusiastically, “I have to look good doing that!”
“She’ll give it a good try,” laughs Jakob, “but it might not make it too far!”
No matter what, it will be cool for fans to see and at least Ina won’t have to dodge around any cows in the field!
Come on down and give a big welcome to new third baseman Jakob Poturnak and the rest of the Riverhawks as they step up to the plate and shine under the spotlights at RE/MAX Field.
The Home Opener is June 13. Season tickets are on sale now and single game tickets will be up for grabs soon at gohawks.ca!
You can hear from Jakob directly on our story on YouTube.