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A hometown feel
Dunedin resident sings national anthem
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Katie Ducharme will sing the national anthem for the Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
DUNEDIN – When Katie Ducharme was 6 years old, her mother arranged for her to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a college basketball game in her hometown of Detroit. Today, more than 20 years later, Ducharme is still singing the same song.

She’s performed the national anthem at Detroit Tigers baseball games, Detroit Red Wings hockey games and Detroit Pistons basketball games. She’s sung at the White House, Dave Coulier’s “Full House” Celebrity Golf Classic and in a Kenny Rogers Christmas Show. Locally, she’s done live performances for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Clearwater Threshers. But it was her experience singing both the Star Spangled Banner and the Canadian National Anthem at every home game for the Detroit Plymouth Whalers hockey team for more than 10 years that attracted the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I sing the Canadian and American national anthems, and the Blue Jays knew that when I talked to them,” Ducharme said. “And I think I can bring a hometown feel.”

So this year, Ducharme will spend spring training singing the national anthem for the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin.

Ducharme, who lives in Dunedin with her husband, 4-year-old son Colton and 14-month-old son Nathan, said that singing at almost every home game allows her to cultivate a relationship with the fans at the stadium. Dunedin, she said, focuses on involving the entire community in the baseball team.

“I know that a lot of people come down from Canada, and this is just one more thing to make it special,” she said. “The fans get to rely on me to be there at every game.”

Ducharme doesn’t get nervous anymore. She’s been doing it for so long that it’s become second nature, automatic.

“I started at such a young age, but I’m still so passionate about being a national anthem singer,” she said. “And I’m excited to be able to represent Toronto and Dunedin.”

Over the years, Ducharme said she’s developed a routine. She doesn’t eat dairy products or chew gum before a performance. She only drinks water up to two hours before singing. Every time, just before she goes on stage, she says the same prayer. And this season, she’ll dress in her personalized Blue Jays jersey, complete with her name and No. 14 on the back, a temporary member of the Toronto baseball team.

Ducharme also released her first two singles, “One Day” and “The Reason Why” on iTunes in 2013, and said she’d love to write and produce more original music if the opportunity presents itself. But for now, she’ll stick with the Star Spangled Banner and the Canadian National Anthem.

“Fans appreciate a good national anthem,” she said, “and that’s what I want to give them.”

The Toronto Blue Jays play spring training games at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, from now until March 29. For a full spring training schedule, go to www.t­oront­o.blu­ejays­.mlb.­com.
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