Abbotsford – The University of the Fraser Valley athletic department has struck a partnership with University Baseball Academy of Chilliwack to launch a club baseball program in 2016-17.
The UFV Cascades Baseball Club will become the sixth team in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC), and will play out of Chilliwack’s Fairfield Island Park.
University Baseball Academy began operations last summer and played an exhibition schedule in the CCBC in 2015-16. The program has obtained full CCBC membership status for the 2016-17 season. Under the new affiliation agreement with UFV, University Baseball Academy will continue to cover all operating costs for the team, while the Cascades athletic department will provide general support for the student-athletes.
“Baseball has strong roots in the Fraser Valley, with many players moving on to post-secondary or professional leagues,” noted Steve Tuckwood, UFV director of athletics and campus recreation. “This group has had a solid first year and has proven they can compete in their league. We’re excited to see where things go, and we’re pleased to bring 30 student-athletes to UFV.”
University Baseball Academy was founded by Chilliwack businessman Brian Finnie, and he’ll continue to lead the way on the business side for the Cascades Baseball Club. Heading up baseball operations are general manager Lee Rogers and head coach Shawn Corness. Rogers is a longtime Chilliwack Minor Baseball Association manager, while Corness is former San Francisco Giants scout and a seasoned veteran of the post-secondary baseball scene. He previously served as head coach with the Kwantlen Eagles and as assistant coach with the UBC Thunderbirds.
University Baseball Academy had 26 student-athletes on its roster in 2015-16, and posted a combined 21-11-1 record between the fall and spring exhibition schedules.
“We aspire to be a baseball organization where our first focus is on education,” Finnie said. “Most of our players attend UFV already, but it’s very nice to be officially collaborating with the university.”
“This really opens up opportunities for young people in the Fraser Valley to compete at home and get a great education,” Corness stated. “It’s fantastic for our players that they get to be affiliated with a university. They can become more a part of the athletic culture at UFV, and they’ll take pride in wearing the Cascades logo on their chest.”
The CCBC is under the administration of the Premier Baseball Association, which also includes B.C.’s top youth development leagues: the B.C. Premier Baseball League (U18) and the B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League (U16).
CCBC teams play fall exhibition schedules, with the regular season and playoffs running from March through May. Other teams include the University of Calgary Dinos (Calgary, Alta.), Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs (Lethbridge, Alta.), Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (Kamloops, B.C.), Okanagan College Coyotes (Kelowna, B.C.) and Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners (Nanaimo, B.C.). Prairie Baseball Academy has won the last six league championships.
“On behalf of the league, we are pleased to welcome the Cascades team into the CCBC,” said CCBC commissioner Ted Hotzak. “It’s long overdue for us to have a team in the Lower Mainland, and we’re positive that with the principals involved and head coach Shawn Corness, the team will be competitive from day one and will be a great success and a great addition to the league.”