Wednesday, 19 July 2017 07:00

More players for Badlands Badgers in 2017/18

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The Badlands Baseball Academy in Oyen is starting to find its stride when it comes to the baseball program with a fully-prescribed roster for the upcoming school year.

With nine graduates and only five returning to the academy for 2017-18, the search was on for some new blood. It didn’t take long to fill all 16 spots for the upcoming year with 11 new players — two more than this past year — with the announcement the program is full coming at the beginning of July.
This year, the players will arrive in Oyen Aug. 29 from all over Canada including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, says head coach Jeff Amos.
Most of the players are in Grade 11, with some in Grade 12, and only one in Grade 10. That should set the team up nicely for the coming season and the 2018-19 year.
“You don’t like losing guys, but when you have a big turnover, you can kind of start from scratch and make your own team,” says Amos.
All of the players who left the team this year have moved on to play baseball while pursuing their post-secondary educations in the States and, for some, closer to home in Lethbridge.
When the players arrive on Aug. 29, their time will turn to baseball quickly as they have games every weekend starting the Labour Day weekend right up until the end of October.
Then they turn their focus to indoor training as well as preparing for their big trip to Las Vegas to play ball.
“Winter is a tough stretch, because the kids are so far away from home. We try to keep them busy and happy through the winter months,” explains Amos.
They are also kept busy helping plan their big fundraising dinner held every winter which raises funds to support the players and the academy.
While the baseball side of operations is running along smoothly, as is the partnership with South Central High School and Prairie Rose School Division, and area that continues to be a struggle is sponsorship and finding billet families for the players.
There have been years where billet families are still needed the week the students arrive, but in the end, the locals pull through and offer up their homes. Knowing there are billets available earlier in the summer would ease some of the stress of that situation.
Billet families receive $500 per month to house a baseball academy student and feed him. The players are really only around in the evenings as they are in school during the day, at practices in the late afternoons and early evenings, and then away most weekends playing games.
“The billets we do have, find that it is a really good experience,” adds Amos.
The team is also always looking for sponsorship.
“We’re always hard-pressed to break even and Prairie Rose (School Division) has helped us a ton as well as the donations we receive,” says Amos. “We can only charge the players so much, so we have to make up the rest through fundraising.”
Amos is pleased to see how the academy’s reputation has grown over the years.
“We’ve have more guys applying than we’ve had before, and those players are coming to us.”
Anyone interested in becoming a billet or finding out how to donate to the academy can contact officials by phoning 403-664-3644 ext. 2706 or checking out the website at:

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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