Two graduating Sardis secondary school students will be playing ball at Douglas College next year, suiting up for the Royals.
Brad Fitzsimmons and Kim Guliker are both graduates of the Sardis baseball academy.
Fitzsimmons will be playing baseball at Douglas College.
Guliker will be playing softball.
“I got in touch with Douglas College through Shawn Corness, who’s part of the academy here,” Guliker explained. “Gord (Royals coach Collings) came to watch me play and apparently really liked me at lot. And he recruited me about a week and a half later.”
A recent arrival in Chilliwack, Guliker moved from Mission two years ago, just as the Sardis academy was getting off the ground.
“Shawn (Corness) knows a lot and he spends a lot of time working on the little things,” Guliker noted. “My batting was really messed up for a long time, but he noticed something with my swing and helped me fix it.”
Guliker plays rep softball in Abbotsford, and that is where Collings watched her play.
A naturally athletic shortstop, Guliker has a strong arm and good range in the field. At the plate, she hits for average and has modest pop.
“I was pretty excited that Douglas wanted me because I never really thought I was that good,” Guliker said. “I was thinking about money and part-time jobs and having to pay my way through school. This doesn’t give me a whole lot of financial help, but it lets me apply for courses before anyone else, which is nice.”
Guliker has applied and been accepted to pursue a business degree.
“I’ve been working at a cold storage place in Aldergrove, managing our shipping and receiving office,” she said. “I’m pretty good at it, and it comes pretty easy to me. Once I get a business degree, I’ll have a lot of options open to me.”
Fitzsimmons isn’t as sure what he wants to do, and he’ll be going into general studies at Douglas.
“After a year or two, maybe I’ll narrow it down,” he surmised.
His primary focus is on the diamond, where he hopes the Royals will serve as a springboard to CIS baseball at the University of British Columbia.
“Shawn (Corness) knows the coach at Douglas (Josh Ridgeway), and he thought it would be a good spot for me if I eventually want to get to UBC,” Fitzsimmons said. “He got their coach to come out and watch a couple games of mine, and they ended up recruiting me.”
Fitzsimmons came up through Chilliwack Minor Baseball, splitting time between the field and pitching mound. With the Royals, Fitsimmons will focus on pitching, looking to add velocity and hone his offerings (a two-seam fastball, change-up and curveball).
“I throw decently hard (approximately 84-85 miles per hour) and I have a pretty good work ethic,” Fitzsimmons said. “The coach really appreciates a good work ethic, so that probably helped me a lot.”
While Fitzsimmons has long thought about baseball’s potential to provide him with an education, he’s only started to consider it realistic in the last two years.
Like Guliker, he gives a lot of credit to the baseball academy and the instruction of Corness.
“This was a huge part of it,” he said, gesturing at the facility located on a piece of property on Keith Wilson Road. “Being able to throw every day and get your reps in every day, that’s the biggest thing. Training two or three days a week isn’t enough.”
Fitzsimmons expects a big leap in competition as he heads into the tough Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAAC) conference.
But the training he’s received in Chilliwack makes him feel ready for the challenge.
“Their division is really competitive and a really big step up for me,” he said. “They have some really good schools in the United States. The focus will be to get bigger, throw harder and refine what I’m doing on the mound.”
Get information on the Douglas College baseball and softball teams online at www.douglife.ca/dcroyalsathletics/