Chilliwack BC – The Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball Group is pleased to announce that there will be a college baseball team playing out of the Fairfield Island Ballpark in Chilliwack starting in September 2015.
The Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball Group is headed by Brian Finnie, a local Chilliwack businessman who has been supporting the local baseball community in Chilliwack for the past five years. Finnie worked part time with several of the volunteer’s on the Chilliwack board and was totally blown away by their commitment to the baseball community. Based on his gained trust, he has assembled a staff and an enthusiastic group of volunteers to acquire a Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) franchise. The CCBC franchise has been granted!
Application has been made to affiliate with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). UFV is currently reviewing the application and hopes to make an announcement soon. On acceptance by UFV, Finnie expects to run as a “club team” for a year or two with the aim of applying for varsity status. If all goes well, we would love to see this team as a permanent fixture in our community and make UFV the first choice for student athletes looking for high performance baseball and top quality education.
The team will be the sixth team in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). League president, Ted Hotzak, said that “the league is excited to be adding a team in the lower mainland.” He went on to say that “there’s some tremendous elite level baseball talent in the Fraser Valley that will now have an opportunity to showcase itself at the college level right at home.”
Finnie was able to secure the services of Shawn Corness as head coach of the team and Lee Rogers as General Manager. Finnie is pretty clear that without these two main characters, he wouldn’t have brought this full circle. Corness, a former scout with the San Francisco Giants and most recently the pitching coach and head assistant with the UBC Thunderbirds is thrilled to be bringing college baseball to the Fraser Valley. Corness has a long resumé when it comes to baseball in British Columbia and his decision to settle in the east end of the Fraser Valley means that baseball fans in the Valley can expect to see the superb baseball talent and exciting championship calibre teams for years to come.
Corness has been very busy recruiting players. With 15 players already having signed Letters of Intent for 2016 (including 6 Chilliwack Minor Baseball Association products), and more talented players being considered, this promises to be an exciting first season.
The team will begin its development and exhibition schedule in September 2015, playing both on the road and out of Fairfield. The CCBC regular season normally runs from mid-March to the second weekend of May.
For more information contact: Lee Rogers, GM at [email protected] or (604) 316-0188
Other Information of Interest:
Who is the Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball Group?
The group consists of the following members:
Owner, Chairman Brian Finnie, local Chilliwack businessman
Executive Assistant, Kathryn Stock
General Manager Leland (Lee) Rogers, local Chilliwack businessman
Manager (head coach) Shawn Corness
Coach Norys (Junior) Deleon
Chilliwack Minor Baseball Liaison Brent Bogart, President CMBA
Abbotsford Minor Baseball Liaison Dan Dyck, President AMBA (To be confirmed)
Mission Minor Baseball Liaison To be determined
Comptroller/Treasurer Jared Moorman, HUB Barton International
Marketing, and volunteer coordination Larry Krause, Sales and Marketing, Chilliwack Progress
Advisor on Sponsorship and Community Support Barry Douglas, Chilliwack Chiefs
Facilities Coordinator Terry Kellington, Local Chilliwack businessman
Camps and Academy Allan Padgham, businessman, Surrey
When did the Fraser Valley Baseball Group form?
The founding meeting of the group was held on May 28, 2015.
For a bit more detail, here’s a narrative of more or less how the whole thing came about:
The concept had been brewing for some time, but the decision to do more than just talk about it came about in April 2015. Informal and seemingly tongue-in-cheek conversations between Shawn Corness and Clyde Inouye of the Premiere Baseball Association had been going on for about a year on the topic of a college team playing out of Abbotsford or Chilliwack. The possibility did not seem likely. First of all, Corness seemed to have a great gig at UBC, and secondly, who would bring the necessary financial and organizational backing to pull off a new team. Uniforms alone are $7,500…forget about equipment, facilities, travel, salaries.
When the Chilliwack Midget AAA Cougars won the Western Canada Baseball Championship tournament in 2014, Corness’s value as a coach couldn’t be ignored. This caught the attention of Brian Finnie whose own sons had started playing ball in Chilliwack. Finnie had been hiring Corness through Shawn’s “Batter’s Box Academy” to train his boys, but the opportunity to see Shawn in action, coaching in a high pressure tournament in Chilliwack really created a buzz with Brian and a small group of people that surrounded him. “Wow…after such a great tournament, in this beautiful setting, wouldn’t a college team playing out of UFV be AMAZING!!” was the nature of the buzz. That buzz was shared somehow with Clyde Inouye of the PBA. The tongue-in-cheek conversations seemed to be less so now.
As time passed and winter came the buzz continued, but Brian’s surrounding group had chilled to the idea of a college team a bit. Mostly fears of time and money kept the conversations about a possible college team muted. Then, in March 2015 the chatter started up again. The new Midget AAA season was about to get going, the CCBC season was underway and suddenly there was a deadline: Clyde informed us that the CCBC governors were meeting on May 7, and if there could be a college application submitted before then, the governors would vote on it. To top it off, the new athletic director at UFV was known to us. The convergence of these factors—the new ball season, the imperative of a deadline, the fact that we might be able to get a meeting at UFV, willingness by Brian Finnie to fund the founding of the team—all seemed to come together in a chemical reaction that created excitement about the idea of a college team. The coup de grace occurred when our team met Barry Douglas. His energy was the last bit of impetus that pushed us over the edge, so that on May 7 there was a completed application presented to the CCBC. The application was accepted by the CCBC governors and the franchise granted.
We met the UFV athletic director on May 26 and formally submitted our application. We are less than a month from that day and, while we would love the wheels of administration to turn on our schedule, we have to wait for them to turn on their own schedule. So we expect the final decision from UFV sometime before the end of June.
What is a “Club Team”? (UFV requirement for affiliation)
A club team is one that funds itself, looks after everything related to the operation and administration of the team and deals with the league of which it is a part. While the team is authorized to wear university colours and bear the university logo, the team has to recruit players, organize facilities, schedules, uniforms, equipment and trainer support on its own. The team will be able to apply for Varsity status after two years of being a club team.
The negotiation with UFV has been underway since April 2015 and UFV has been very encouraging, to the point of inquiring how player recruiting has been going. We expect UFV’s approval by the end of June.
Who is the organization lead by? Brian Finnie, Lee Rogers and Shawn Corness
Who is funding it? To start, Brian Finnie. The team will be operated as a business with the intention that it will eventually fund itself. This will include gate receipts, fundraising and player fees.
Who has received approval? Brian Finnie submitted the original application to CCBC and received word from Clyde Inouye that the CCBC application had been accepted. Lee Rogers and Brian Finnie submitted our affiliation request to UFV and we are waiting for the final approval.
Who approved this from Canadian College? The board of governors. All the teams voted on our application.
Who is faced with the decision from UFV? The request was placed with the new Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation Steve Tuckwood. He is navigating our application through the UFV administration.
Why have they not approved the team? It’s a matter of time. We brought our application to the administration at a very busy time of year for them. It has been less than a month since we submitted it. Rather than be pushy, we are accepting the encouragement we’ve got from UFV at face value and that a decision will be rendered by the end of June.
Who are the coaches? Shawn Corness and Junior Deleon
Who are the players? Depth chart is available.
Who benefits from this team? Here is a partial list of who may benefit from this team:
Those who are from the Fraser Valley but seek to play ball and end up going out of province or at least out of the Fraser Valley to find a place to play can now stay home.
This gives them a further opportunity to develop and potentially get registered for the MLB draft
Students will come to play ball
Baseball, because of its reach internationally has the ability to project the reputation of the school to a wider audience.
Programs within the university will have an opportunity to do live work, for example human kinetics can have additional OJT opportunities and computer science can work with the websites, stats programmes and broadcast of games.
Having another team, improves the competition landscape for all the teams. There is more drama around more teams “duking it out” for one championship.
Having teams come to the league makes the position/value of other teams stronger
The community who will get another entertainment venue
The minor baseball associations in the Valley who now have a college target for their players to aim for. i.e. inspiration for players to develop to play ball at a high level
The tourism infrastructure in the Valley who will benefit from teams coming to town, not to mention the Jubilee atmosphere around tournaments and the potential for a major Championship tournament.
Why do we need this? Players who might stay in the Valley, but can’t find a place to play, look elsewhere and then go elsewhere. This provides them a place to play that is close to home.
Why now? The people are available to do it, the motivation for them to get it done is high and so there’s something of a Carpe Diem thing going on here.
When is a UFV decision expected? By the end of June
About the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC)
The following information is paraphrased from the CCBC Rules and Procedures manual. Detailed information is available at the CCBC Website at www.ccbc.pointstreaksites.com/view/ccbc.
The CCBC is a division of the Premier Baseball Association. It is an independent college baseball league that is affiliated with institutions from The BC College Athletic Association and educational institutions from Alberta.
The CCBC insists that athletes must realize they are a student first and a baseball player second.
With the Fraser Valley team, there are six teams. The other five are:
Vancouver Island Baseball Institute from Nanaimo affiliated with Vancouver Island University
Okanagan College, Kelowna
Thompson Rivers University
The Prairie Baseball Academy affiliated with University of Lethbridge
University of Calgary Dinos
Playing seasons include:
Fall Season: September 1 – October 31 of the calendar year
Spring Season or Championship Season: January 1 – May 31
Full Time Student – a student that is enrolled in at least nine credits; Note: a “full load” is 15 credits.
Practice Player – a player not enrolled in at least 9 credit hours or is deemed ineligible in the Championship Season.
First year student – a student attending a post-secondary institution for the first time.
Key Eligibility Rules:
There are many details around player eligibility. These rules are the most significant:
Student athletes are encouraged to enroll in at least twelve credits per semester.
In order to participate in any fall/spring game or scrimmage, a student athlete must be enrolled at the affiliated university as a full time student at the time of that game or scrimmage.
Teams may use players from schools in their area other than their school of direct affiliation. For example the Okanagan College Coyotes accept players from UBCO.
Student athletes are allowed four years of athletic eligibility.
The CCBC has been ruled a four year program by MLB.
Biographies of Key Personnel
Mr. Brian Finnie has over forty diversified years of experience in the construction industry. He has experience working with helicopters, welding, teaching and civil and mechanical contracting. He has worked for many of the construction giants in a variety of complex geographical locations on several mega projects. His role has evolved from the trades, up through various management positions, and now he is a construction owner in both mechanical and civil fields. Brian has always centered his career on relationships with key people and gives full credit to those around him who bring amazing talent to the table. His real strength is in finding the right people to do the job and those who constantly bring a positive attitude into the work place. He has always invited new challenges and really appreciated the people who gave him a chance to develop a long and interesting career.
After so many years in the industry, Finnie says, “there’s so much more to conquer!” After reinventing himself several times, including 25 straight years of post secondary training, Finnie is sure that if you keep drilling into the industry you will keep finding huge opportunities. If you keep on engaging people, you will find more and more talent looking for a place to unfold.
One of Brian’s many talents is not being shy about meeting people and finding out what they really want to do; not just the surface but deep within. “All of the wonderful exposures such as: different cultures, teaching, helicoptering, managing, directing and owning companies seem somewhat blasé, when compared to meeting someone new and sharing ideas about the future and what they are trying to achieve as a person. In such a fast-paced world, it is good to be able to work with so many fantastic people towards a common goal. We spend our lives and time together and it keeps the conflict and change of the outside world at bay somewhat.”
Brian Finnie holds baseball, people and all things related close to his heart. He has built close and very meaningful relationships along the way and has ties to the Seattle Mariners. Mr. Finnie volunteers in numerous areas, and has spent a great deal of time and capital building a state of the art baseball facility.
“I have had an amazing career and to be in this phase of my life and surrounded by so many super talented people is a blessing to say the least. There is nothing much I am afraid of tackling, when looking through the depth of trades management and engineering talent we hold within our walls.”
Lee Rogers has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario and a certificate in Project Management from UBC. He spent the first 17 years of his career in the Canadian Military Engineers serving as a combat engineer officer, a combat diving officer and a tactics instructor. On retirement from the Army in 1997 he started an Internet Service Provider company in Abbotsford with Dowco Internet which led to the work he has been doing since 1999 as co-owner of LeadOn Training Solutions Inc.
Today Lee has twenty-five years of experience in military and corporate training environment and specializes in curriculum design, the development of classroom and online training materials and instruction. Lee has developed dozens of programs for Cisco Systems, Inc., Terasen Gas (Now FortisBC), FortisAlberta, Force10 Networks, and Intel.
Lee is also a founding and current director of PowerDisc Development Corporation, a 14 year-old hydrogen fuel cell company based out of the NRCs Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation at UBC.
As the father of five children, Lee has tried to involve himself in their growing-up by taking an active part in whatever sport or activity they chose for themselves. When his two youngest boys took an interest in baseball, Lee, as an avid baseball fan himself, jumped right in and got himself involved with the Chilliwack Minor Baseball Association. On the board of directors for the Chilliwack Minor Baseball Association since 2009, Lee has undertaken the direction of the 18U AAA program. It was in his capacity working with the 18U boys that Lee connected with Brian Finnie and Shawn Corness for the College Program.
Born May 26th 1962, at Chilliwack General Hospital & raised on First ave. in east Chilliwack, my only 3 grade schools included, FG Leary, Chilliwack Junior & finally Chilliwack Senior, graduating High School in 1980.
After registering at Fraser Valley College, I was taken down a different path, employed in the hospitality, retail, finance & media industries.
Married to a Greendale farm girl in May 1984, Anita & I have lived together in various communities across BC, currently residing in east Abbotsford- a baseballs throw from Delair Park.
I am employed, since 1990, with Black Press in Media Sales & Marketing partnering with a variety of local, national, & international clients from small businesses to global giants such as Ritchie Brothers, Kaltire, Sto:lo Nation, McDonalds, Overwaitea Food Group, & Toyota.
After 25 years in the industry across several Publication Franchises, there aren’t any clients that I haven’t enjoyed a relationship with.
My current responsibilities with Black Press are supplemented & enhanced including exciting opportunities with BC Hockey & the Vancouver Canadians.
My role with BC Hockey is Officiating Development Coordinator, a volunteer position that includes the development, encouragement, enhancement, equipping and mentoring of 4500 certified Officials across BC and the Yukon.
This is my third term in this position working with a leadership team of 150.
For the past 5 seasons, The Vancouver Canadians have hired both my son and I for various roles within their organization.
My responsibilities include managing Guest Services on Game Days, maintaining the standards set for the staff, guests, baseball celeb’s & corporate partners.
In the off season we are active in the community participating in the Rogers Santa & St Patricks Day Parades, Hot Stove Fundraising Luncheons & other public appearances representing the Professional Baseball Club.
I am married to my wife Anita for 31 years. My 2 grown children, Kristyn a former professional figure skater & now PE High School Teacher in Abbotsford at Abbotsford Senior, & my son Kraig, a Broadcasting Communications student at York University in Toronto.
I look forward to serving in any capacity with your dynamic visionary group.
Head Coach Shawn Corness
The Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball Group is pleased to have Shawn Corness as its head coach. Shawn has a long and storied baseball career and is known to many in the worldwide baseball community. Some of Shawn’s key coaching accomplishments include:
5 Provincial Titles
3 Western Canadian Titles
2 National Titles
1 World Series Title
16 MLB Draft Picks Shawn has Coached or taught
32 years of Coaching Experience.
Written a pitching manual
Former Scout with the San Francisco Giants