Come September, UFV’s athletic department will be introducing baseball as a new university club sport, making them the sixth team to join the Canadian College Baseball Conference.
While the idea for the team surfaced over three years ago, it didn’t come together until last year when the University Baseball Academy was founded in Chilliwack.
The Academy approached the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) and joined the league where they’ll compete against the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Thompson Rivers University, the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute, and Okanagan College.
“Last year when we got accepted in May, we had to have a team together by September,” Shawn Corness, the team’s head coach said. “My biggest fear was that we weren’t going to recruit enough kids in the short period of time to put a team on the field, but as soon as word got out that we were doing this, recruiting went through the roof and we got 26 kids in about a month.”
After having one season of probation, the team is officially joining the league for their upcoming 2016 / 17 season, but they’ll be representing UFV this time.
For Steve Tuckwood, UFV’s athletic director, the decision to include the team into the athletic program wasn’t a hard one.
“The group was really organized,” he said. “They had their franchise in place, they had their funding in place, they had a board of directors, they had everything that made it much easier for us to decide that this was going to be an easy addition for the university.”
With only a handful of university baseball teams in the province, and none in the Fraser Valley, Tuckwood also saw the team as an opportunity to attract more student athletes to UFV.
“I think we fill a void of where we are geographically with a lot of players and a lot of people who would choose to stay and get their education here at UFV, as opposed to go elsewhere to play quality baseball,” he said.
While building the team, Corness noticed that this was the case for most of the teammates.
“Once they found out that we were a college baseball team and that they could go to UFV and play and get their education there, it was a big thing,” he said.
For the members of the baseball team, including Emilio Foden, joining UFV’s athletic family comes with its own benefits.
“It’s a big weight off our shoulders,” he said. “Before, nobody really knew who we were and we were just on our own, but now, being a part of the university, I feel that we have something to prove.”
Corness noted that being able to identify as the Cascades serves as motivation for the team.
“It’s a pride thing — you’re actually part of a university and playing for a university instead of being an independent college baseball team,” he said.
“We’re just all ready to compete and now that we have this opportunity to compete for UFV, it’s made it a lot better,” Foden added. “It puts us closer to winning a championship — we have someone to win a championship for.”
“It puts us closer to winning a championship — we have someone to win a championship for.”
“It’s a pride thing — you’re actually part of a university and playing for a university instead of being an independent college baseball team.”