Corness takes reins of midget baseball program in Chilliwack

Chilliwack Minor Baseball is bringing in Shawn Corness to head up the midget AAA program.

In an effort to keep young ballplayers in Chilliwack

In an effort to keep young ballplayers in Chilliwack

Chilliwack Minor Baseball is bringing in Shawn Corness to head up the midget AAA program.

Corness, who operates the Battersbox Baseball Academy in Chilliwack, will be a paid coach with a specific mandate — build the program into something that will keep local talent in Chilliwack, now and well into the future.

“I had the thought in the summer, with a number of kids I work with who were looking to leave Chilliwack in the search for something a little more competitive and developmental,” Corness said. “It makes no sense to me that Chilliwack develops these kids from tadpole up the ladder, and once they get through bantam it’s, ‘Well now where am I going to go?’”

Chilliwack has had midget AAA baseball in recent years, but it was on life support this summer.

The core of the most recent midget AAA team, the same core that won the bantam AA provincial and western Canadian championships in 2012, was slowly moving on or graduating from minor baseball. And  with them went three dads — Chuck Peeling, Dave Riediger and Bill Lamb — who did  amazing behind-the-scenes work to keep the program going.

“We didn’t have anyone coming into back-fill who has, even remotely, the same skillset of those fellows,” said Lee Rogers, who will act as the team’s general manager. “Everyone was looking at that, hemming and hawing and saying, ‘What is going to happen to midget AAA next year?’ So when the concept of a paid coach was floated, they all said, ‘Good idea.”

The paid-coach idea is new in Chilliwack, but commonplace elsewhere.

The BC Premier Baseball League does it.

Even the BC Minor Baseball League, which Chilliwack plays in, has at least one team (Tri-City) that pays its coach.

Corness’s salary and the team’s heavy travel expenses will be covered through player fees, fundraising and, hopefully, corporate sponsorship.

“Our program was going to die on the vine due to lack of coaching,” Rogers said. “Shaun more than fills the hole with the resume he has. The connections he’s got, the programs he’s been affiliated with, he immediately puts a beacon on our program.”

There’s no doubt Corness has a resume that brings instant credibility.

As a coach, he guided the Kwantlen College Eagles to a BC College Baseball League championship in 2003 before joining UBC as the pitching coach in 2006.

The T-Birds won an NAIA Super Regional championship that year, and UBC’s pitching staff is perennially one of the nation’s best.

Corness has helped seven of his students get drafted by Major League Baseball teams.

Two of them have been first rounders. Jeff Francis was picked ninth overall in 2002 by the Colorado Rockies.

Kyle Lotzkar was picked 53rd overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2007 draft.

Corness became UBC’s full-time assistant coach in 2010, and has since become the  program’s recruiting coordinator.

He moved to Chilliwack five years ago, bringing his Battersbox Baseball Academy with him. He’s also been the lead instructor for the Sardis secondary school baseball academy since 2010.

The team he takes over has spent the last few years in the BC Minor Baseball League, a nine-team circuit that includes the  Vancouver Mounties, Tri-City Indians, South Okanagan (SOMBA) Tigers, Victoria Selects, Kamloops RiverDogs, West Kelowna D-Backs, Richmond City Chuckers and Cloverdale Spurs.

It’s a good league, and that’s where they’ll stay under Corness’s guidance. It doesn’t have the glitzy rep of the BC Premier Baseball League, which is seen as the place to go for aspiring ballplayers.

Guys like Brett Lawrie (Langley Blaze) and Justin Morneau (North Delta) Blue Jays have helped forge that rep.

But, in his capacity as UBC’s chief recruiter, Corness knows midget AAA can be a viable option. It’s a matter of helping players realize it.

“I think there’s a lot of misnomers out there about the PBL, and people are told that’s where you have to go if you want to succeed,” Corness noted. “I truly don’t believe that. There’s kids across the country who don’t play in the two PBLs (in BC and Ontario), and go on to pro ball.”

“If you’re in a program with good coach and scheduling, if you have the talent to go on, you’ll get the opportunity.”

Corness admits it will take time to build the program to where it will change the minds of show-me parents.

“Once they see the product on the field and the development that’s going to go on, with time we’ll prove that you can come here and get every opportunity that a PBL player gets,” Corness said.

Between the lines is one thing, but Corness also feels he’ll add off-the-field value that didn’t exist before.

“When it comes to scholarships and things like that, it’s not whether you’re highly scouted or not,” he said. “You have to recruit yourself, send out the videos and things like that. I have a lot of connections across BC and Alberta, and hundreds down south as well. Whatever a player wants to do, I believe we can help make it happen.”

Winter training started this week.

Corness feels he starts with a solid base of players and he doesn’t believe in ‘rebuilding’ years.

He plans to hit the ground running and have immediate success.

“It’s just by nature as a coach that I don’t go into things just hoping for success. I’ll expect us to compete on day one,” Corness said. “People will see right away that we’re a competitive program that’s developing good young baseball players.”

Get Chilliwack Minor Baseball info online at

Get BC Minor Baseball League info at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Inez Louis, who is strategic operations planner with the health department in the Sto:lo Service Agency, talks about infection control in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Nurse Inez Louis explains how infection control is not social control

The difference is important for Indigenous people to hear in the context of Canada’s colonial past

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Most Read