Sylvan Lake’s Hockey Central adapted the identity of “Baseball Central” once again on Sunday for the announcement of the Sylvan Lake Gulls head coach.
Former HJ Cody teacher Jason Chatwood will be leading the Sylvan Lake Gulls through their first season in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) in 2021.
During the announcement on July 26 , Aqil Samuel, general manager of baseball operations, said the Gulls were looking for a coach who was capable in helping to get the team off the ground.
“We’re all competitive people, we want to put a coach in that’s going to help us compete right away,” said Samuel on behalf of himself and the ownership team, Graham and Jen Schetzsle.
Additionally, he said they needed someone who has good connections in the baseball community both on this side and south of the border, someone who would be able to protect the brand as well as understand the Central Alberta demographic of baseball.
Chatwood, who teaches at the St. Joseph Ball Academy, says he is looking forward to being back in Sylvan Lake.
“I have experience with the community and the people and it has a special place in my heart,” said Chatwood. “I think to get the chance to kind of build something and be apart of something and hopefully create a culture to where this is going to be a long lasting organization and I think that was a challenge I wanted to take on.”
He says he first set his eyes on the position when it was announced the team was coming to Central Alberta and he is “honoured and fortunate” to get the position of head coach.
“I’m born and raised in this area and I think I know what baseball means to this part of the province and I think this is just another opportunity to help grow the game,” he added.
Chatwood is looking forward to getting to work on building the coaching staff and recruiting players to get the team ready to compete at the opening game next season.
He explained they are exploring the option of bringing up coaches from the States to round out the staff and they are hoping to make some player announcements soon.
Season tickets and merchandise are still being worked on as well as the stadium, which is becoming more concrete by the day.
“I imagine within the next month it’s going to start feeling even more real,” Chatwood said. “There’s a lot of good things happening in our province right now and this is just kind of an icing on the cake for families and kids to be apart of and come into unity and support it.”
The Sylvan Lake Gulls have already began sharing their culture by aligning with the Gulls Give Foundation.
The foundation’s first act was donating an authentic Toronto Blue Jays jersey to Adrenalin Motors and RBC Sylvan Lake’s online donation auction to benefit the Sylvan Lake Community Food Bank.
“It’s always been a priority of our leadership team to give back to the community,” explained Jen Schetzsle, secretary of the Gulls Give Foundation, in a phone interview.
The foundation has been discussing the importance of keeping the giving spread out and want to make sure they cover all sorts of initiatives within Central Alberta, she explained.
The first meeting of the Gulls Give Foundation was about a month ago and they are exploring opportunities to grow, such as a possibility for memberships.
“It hasn’t been nailed down exactly, but there’s lots more exciting things to come for the Gulls Give Foundation,” said Schetzsle.