Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball has secured a partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley, and will fly the Cascades flag when players hit the diamond this fall.
Launched last year, the team played its first season at Chilliwack’s Fairfield Island as an unaffiliated program.
The team played an exhibition slate against Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) foes, with head coach Shawn Corness leading his crew to a surprising 21-11-1 record.
The affiliation with UFV that was played up so large when the team launched in 2015 took longer than expected.
But Corness stayed patient, knowing the university would be impressed by the program’s success on and off the field.
“To be honest, I’m very happy to have this done within one year,” he said. “It could have taken a lot longer.”
“They (UFV) wanted to take their time and make sure the program would reflect their vision and what they want from their athletes, and I think the past year proved a lot about what we can do and what we’re about.”
Corness and company got out in the community, visiting elementary schools and showing up at countless events.
They’ll continue to do so, sporting the green, black and white of the Cascades.
“We couldn’t be happier putting that logo on our chests,” Corness said. “The players feel they have a home and feel a part of something. They can call themselves university athletes and that’s a big deal to them.”
Under the affiliation agreement, the team will continue to cover its own operating costs while the Cascades athletic department provides 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,” said 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.”
The team was founded by Chilliwack businessman Brian Finnie and he’ll continue to lead the way on the business side.
“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.”
The program has obtained full CCBC membership status for the 2016-17 season, ditching the probational status they played under last season.
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, Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs (Lethbridge, AB), Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (Kamloops), Okanagan College Coyotes (Kelowna) and Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners (Nanaimo).
Prairie Baseball Academy has won the last six championships.
“It’s long overdue for us to have a team in the Lower Mainland,” said CCBC commissioner Ted Hotzak. “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 addition to the league.”