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Sylvan Lake Gulls building a brand that keeps fans coming back

They’re second in the WCBL in attendance
Sylvan Lake Gulls Nick Groves hits a triple to begin the game against the Fort McMurray Giants on Saturday at Gulls Stadium. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

If you live in central Alberta chances are you’ve seen your fellow neighbours sporting Sylvan Lake Gulls apparel.

Since the teams’ inception in 2021, the Gulls have slowly built a brand that’s celebrated by their fans.

I mean what’s not to like?

The Gulls have been one of the league’s best teams since they joined three years ago and as the playoffs approach they’re poised to make another run in the postseason.

Co-founder and CEO of the Gulls Jen Schetzsle explained the last three years they’ve put in a lot of time to build a culture.

“When we went to initially do our first merch launch we put in a lot of time and detail into our logos and made sure they did match the brand,” she said.

Director of social media and brand development Karlin Stickel was the creative mind behind all of the Gulls logos and merchandise designs. Schetzsle explained Stickel has brought a lot to the team.

“She has her hands on every single piece of merchandise in the store,” Schetzsle added.

They focus on keeping their apparel traditional to baseball and she explained a key for them has been keeping everything in stock.

They’ve worked with North Star Sports out of Red Deer since 2021 and they help create the clothing and other items you see in the Gulls shop.

Gulls Stadium remains the only spot in central Alberta where fans can purchase apparel but they’re working on a plan to expand in the future.

“We had to get our feet under us with the merchandise before we expanded anything past that,” she said.

The culture built in Sylvan Lake has brought in fans of all ages to the ballpark and the attendance numbers are among the best in the Western Canadian Baseball League.

This season the Gulls on average have 1,586 fans attend their games and have had a total of 36,489 people at Gulls Stadium over the course of the season. Those numbers are second to only the defending champion Okotoks Dawgs.

“We’ve done a good job marketing and of course, word of mouth is helping us as well,” she said.

“The fans come here we entertain them and they have a good time… Basically, we work on entertaining the fans that are baseball enthusiasts and we also entertain the non-baseball fans.”

They get plenty of feedback on their apparel through email and in person. Schetzsle said the consensus among those people is an appreciation for what they’re doing.

“Each year we have more fans in the building and so our sales do increase. We know our fans, we know the demographic we serve, and so we cater to them in that regard,” she said.

“We make sure we have pieces for everybody at different price points and different age groups.”

The Gulls crushed the Fort McMurray Giants on Saturday night at home in a 7-1 victory.

Sylvan Lake took an early 1-0 lead after the first inning and slowly built up their lead throughout the game including a three-run frame in the bottom of the sixth.

Gulls shortstop Jonah Weisner led the way with two RBIs and one hits on three at-bats.

Lead-off man Nick Groves did what he does best and went three for five from the batter’s box. Right fielder Shea Bowen also had a successful night at the plate notching four hits in five appearances.

Starting pitcher Tyler Boudreau was fantastic on the mound striking out nine batters through seven innings. He also only allowed four hits in his fifth win of the summer.

The Gulls rematched the Giants on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. and the Okotoks Dawgs on Monday to wrap up a seven-game homestand.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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