It’s been a long time coming for the brain trust of the Sylvan Lake Western Canadian Baseball League team.
Sunday capped a nearly year-long journey since they first discussed the idea and came as somewhat of a sigh of relief for the group, who has been steering operations since the team was officially accepted into the WCBL in November.
At a launch party and logo unveiling Sunday in Sylvan Lake, with a small gathering of community members, the new team was announced as the Sylvan Lake Gulls.
“I like it. When we started looking at the logos and started getting the visual of what each could potentially look like, it made the Gulls the hands-down winner, I’m very happy,” said Graham Schetzsle, CEO and President of Business Operations.
Schetzsle and his wife, Jen, are the co-owners of H4 Sports and Entertainment which is the group behind the team and along with GM and President of Baseball Operations Aqil Samuel, are the trio spearheading the Gulls operation.
The Gulls were one of five names that came up after community consultations, then through a ballot box process at almost two dozen businesses, they allowed people to have their say on the new name.
Other names in the running included the Sailors, Slough Sharks, Sunpeaks and Whitecaps.
Samuel said there hasn’t been many days since he arrived in Sylvan Lake over the winter that baseball fans didn’t stop to ask him about the team or what the name might be. He was thrilled to finally share it Sunday.
“It just got real really quick. We were doing stuff without the logo and trying to paint the picture for people and I think this will really help us take that step,” he said.
“Just the feedback and the buzz around town was completely worth it. We had 27 polling stations, I couldn’t go out for dinner without someone commenting about what they wanted it to be, that was just a great feeling. We hope people can really get behind it now, something visual and they can tie that to the name. Let’s get going now.”
While the day was mostly about showing the community what the brand will look like for the new club, they also revealed some details about what’s next for the team that will hit the field for the 2021 WCBL season.
The Gulls will play 28 home games at the brand new Pogdal Park facility, and play a 56-game schedule over 70-80 days, depending on the playoff schedule.
They will also be looking to sell game-day tickets around $20 per seat and a season ticket package will cost around $400.
As for next steps, the team plans to name a coach this summer so he can get the recruiting process underway to fill the 22-player roster for the 2021 season.
The WCBL is a summer league for college players, designed to give them a stable summer league to play in. The 12-team WCBL currently has six teams in Saskatchewan and six in Alberta, including Brooks, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Edmonton and Fort McMurray.
Players from the league are largely collegiate players, either from American Junior colleges and Canadian Universities.
Samuel said as well as college-level players that will need local billets, he also hopes to recruit some talent locally.
In addition, they will also launch the team website in the near future and that will be where baseball can purchase Gulls’ merchandise.
“June 1 we’re planning to start doing season tickets. Just a small offering for the 2021 year. We want to name a coach in the summertime. The reason we want to do that is the coach is really integral in recruiting the kids, so we want to get a head start on that,” Samuel said.
Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre was also on hand for the launch and he was thrilled with the potential that bringing a WCBL team to the area means to his community in particular.
“This is such an exciting time for our community, to see baseball of this level coming to Sylvan Lake, is just fantastic. It’s going to add a whole new demographic and great experience to our community, we are totally excited about it,” he said.