After a disappointing 2009-’10 season, the Kwantlen Eagles baseball program has folded this season.
“The baseball program operated as a club team, therefore it was a self-sustaining program. Although the university provided funds to assist the team in completing its final year, the club was unable to sustain itself financially,” athletics director Elise Le Brun wrote in an email.
The difference between a club team and a varsity team — the basketball and soccer teams are varsity teams — is funding. The baseball team was essentially paying its own way to play. While Kwantlen did contribute some funds to assist the team, it far less than the funding received by Kwantlen’s basketball program.
“The first year I was there, we got a little bit [of funding] and then the second we got even less. It was ridiculous. We almost couldn’t even finish our season the second year because we had no money,” said last season’s catcher Colton Mace.
The program also suffered as a club team in its recruitment of players and the team had just 15 players on its roster last season.
“You get no money, no nothing. You have to pay money out. You’re not going to get a lot of people playing that way,” said Mace.
With plenty of other Premier-level baseball teams, such as the Langley Blaze, in the Lower Mainlaind it was hard to convince athletes to come to Kwantlen.
While both the Eagles and Blaze are self-funded organizations, since 2001, the Blaze have had 26 players drafted by Major League teams. The Eagles have had just two: shortstop Lee Darracott and pitcher Chirs Lemay, both in 2004.
The Eagles did have some success in the early years of the program, including a Canadian College Baseball Conference Championship in 2003, but funding and recruitment difficulties eventually caught up with the team last season. They finished the ’09-’10 season with a 4-20 record and didn’t have a single player hit better than .275 for the season.
Le Brun wrote that “the club was unable to sustain itself financially. Therefore, the club administration made the decision to discontinue its support of the team in April 2010.”
Mace saw the decision a little differently.
“Rob [Webster], the coach, was supposed to get paid but because the school didn’t support it he had to get another job and he just didn’t have time for it. And there were no more guys that wanted to play.”
Friday night, the Kwantlen Eagles won some and lost some against the Langara Falcons on home court in men’s and women’s basketball.
The women’s team had a heartbreaking, down-to-the-last-second loss against Langara with a final score of 68-66.
A questionable pushing foul on Taminder Dhaliwal in the fourth quarter allowed the Falcons to sink two free throws with seven seconds left on the clock.
The score was close for most of the game with the women’s team just behind 27-26 at the end of the second quarter. Shortly after, Jessica Williams closed the gap, tying the game 33.
Other highlights included a breakaway layup by Dhaliwal in the third and a layup through a crowded court by Grace Pawluk.
The women’s team league record sits at seven wins, nine losses.
Meanwhile, the men’s team picked up its third straight win, beating Langara 80-66.
The Eagles closed in on a 20-point lead in the third quarter with four consecutive baskets, two of which were three-point shots, making the score 56-36. The Falcons tried to catch up, but Kwantlen maintained a steady lead through the fourth.
Highlights included a series of baskets by Doug Meyers and a collision between Mike Davis and Langara’s Yassine Ghomari. Davis limped off the court in the remaining seconds of the second quarter, but returned to the court in the third.
The men’s record is now six wins, 10 losses.
The Kwantlen Eagles woman’s soccer team flooded the Surrey campus with red last Thursday evening, as they celebrated their record-breaking bronze win at the National Soccer Championships in Ontario.
Students and staff gathered in the main entrance of C building to welcome the team with a roaring round of applause, as they addressed the crowd, flouting their provincial and national medals with pride.
The balloon-filled room was full of emotion as the team laughed through a slideshow of their journey to Toronto, and cried through the numerous speeches addressed to them.
David Atkinson, President of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, was one of the first speakers to congratulation the team.
“Thank you for what was the wettest weekend of my life,” said Atkinson, later joking that he “had to go home immediately and drink half a bottle of scotch.”
After extending an offer to take the whole team out for dinner, Atkinson couldn’t help but mention the accomplishments the university has made during his first year as president of the university.
“I have become very fond of saying ‘this year has been a year of firsts,’” said Atkinson, noting that Kwantlen received university status, established a Senate and now are receiving their first bronze medal for soccer.
Atkinson also surprised the team with a brand new soccer field, which will be built at the Newton Athletic Park by 2010. The field will be owned by Kwantlen, and feature a brand-new Eagles scoreboard.
“See what happens when you win a championship?” said Atkinson. “We spent $2 million. What a great deal!”
After Atkinson’s speech, members of the team shared some of their memories of their journey in Ontario for the national championships.
“We took the longest route possible, [with] shootouts,” said Kelsey Doherty, during her speech. “The ending? Victorious!”
When the time came to describe the big win, there was only one thing the girls could say:
“Overtime penalty kick it was,” said Sarah Davies, “and it landed us third place.”
While the ceremony Thursday evening ended with food and beverages, this is not the end of the Kwantlen Eagles celebration. In 2010, Atkinson will be back to congratulate team members ne more time as they celebrate with an official banner-raising ceremony.