Another piece of the puzzle fell into place for the newest franchise in the Western Canadian Baseball League.
WCB President Kevin Kvame announced the home opening weekend for the Sylvan Lake Gulls will be June 11th, 2021.
“It seems like an eternity ago that we announced Sylvan Lake was coming into the league but I guess it was under a year ago it was formally finalized,” he said at a press conference Tuesday at Sylvan Lake.
The Gulls join the league which has over 80 years of history to its credit and teams spread across Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2019 the league hosted more than 300,000 fans and over 20,000 each year on Canada Day.
Today’s announcement sends a buzz through the league in a year where sports has fizzled somewhat because of COVID-19.
“They’ll (other franchises) just see this as another positive move for the league and one of our franchises and the success of each franchise is important to the overall success of the league, “said Kvame.
Graham Schetzsle, along with his wife Jennifer and others are involved with the ownership of the Gulls franchise. He said this announcement makes it all seem very official and puts the pressure on them.
“We’ve always said yeah, it’s coming in May 2021 but now it really hits you right in the face. June 11th, you have to be ready by June 11th, bathrooms have to work, the water has to be there. All those things race through your mind,” he said.
Kvame took time to check out the Gulls new home out at Pogadl Park just north of Highway 11 on the western edge of Sylvan Lake. He said he was pleased with the progress being made on construction and Schetzsle added just how electric the feeling is to see this coming to fruition.
“Up until last month it’s really been a drawing on paper, a concept, a vision in our heads and now to see it, it sounds corny but to see it rising out of the prairie it’s actually how I feel. It’s really something.”
Kvame mentioned how the WCBL can take the form of a uniting force for the communities home to league franchises. Both he and Schetzsle agree, baseball can do wonders for a town following a year like 2020.
“it’s about building the youth ball program and I know we’ve had some feedback and some conversations with the grassroots level people in Sylvan and we really hope to grow along with them,” said Schezstle, adding the goal is to give back to Sylvan Lake .
Kvame says Major League Baseball has had a long and storied history of bringing communities back from bad events in the past.
“This is just another example across North America, across the world where this pandemic has hit that so much has got cancelled that communities have kind of buttoned down and now there’s going to be opportunity to come back and celebrate local communities, celebrate baseball, celebrate getting together again.”
The league is completely Canadian which makes it stand out when it comes to summer baseball. The passion each franchise has for the game translates into excitement within the community. For Graham and Jennifer Schetzsle the game has been in their blood for years and today’s announcement underlines their passion for baseball by getting involved with the Gulls.
“I guess it’s somewhat following along the model of do what you love and hopefully you can make a living at it. I mean we have other things happening in our lives. It really is about following your passion and seeing what you can do with it.”
Bring on 2021!