May 14th, 2021

Mavs opt out of 2021: Local WCBL team to focus on youth development

By RYAN MCCRACKEN on April 24, 2021.

-- NEWS FILE PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN

rmccracken@medicinehatnews.com@MHNMcCracken

There will be no Medicine Hat Mavericks baseball for a second consecutive summer.

The local Western Canadian Baseball League team announced it is opting out of a potential 2021 summer season after spending the last few weeks exploring options. While there were simply too many factors at play to move forward with a season, it didn’t take long for Mavs owner and general manager Greg Morrison to find the silver lining.

“It’s disappointing, the reality of it, that it’s official now,” said Morrison. “We’ll just have to focus on what we can take away from it, which is really trying to embed ourselves into the youth baseball stuff this summer, see if we can reach as many kids as possible.”

The Mavericks focused on youth development last season as well, with head coach Nolan Rattai and pitching coach Jared Libke – both former Mavericks – staying in town to work on the next generation of Hat ball players.

“I know (kids) can’t play games yet, so I’m going to see if I can keep Jared and Nolan around as much as possible,” said Morrison. “That’s the game plan.”

The WCBL announced March 25 it would be moving forward with plans for a 2021 season, hosting only Canadian players and Alberta-based teams. The Mavericks were on the fence at the time, while the Lethbridge Bulls, Edmonton Prospects, Sylvan Lake Gulls and two Okotoks Dawgs teams have committed to the season. The Fort McMurray Giants have yet to announce a decision.

“I hope for the best,” said Morrison. “In Lethbridge and Okotoks and those guys, I really tip my cap to them for taking a stab at it this year. It’s just not in the stars for us.”

Morrison added he “tried to lean on as many people” as possible to find answers to the expansive list of new questions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there ultimately proved to be too many obstacles.

“Just many things – accessibility to players, what are the public health orders going to be for testing, what are they going to be for fan allowances? That’s just really what it came down to, just so many hurdles I just couldn’t pull off,” he said.

“When I was sitting here a year ago and there was chatter of this pandemic being a couple years, I didn’t believe it would be two summers lost. We’re just not in a situation where we can try to pull it off.”

Back in late March, Morrison informed his players the season was in jeopardy and to seek spots elsewhere – including the team’s Canadian players. That ultimately proved the right decision, as it gave the players an extra month to find a team for the summer.

“They’ve known for a month to try to seek out other opportunities, and really we’re left with the youth side of it,” said Morrison.

“It makes me smile knowing these kids are getting college coaches, and myself, and to be able to give them some things we’ve learned over the years,” said Morrison. “We’ve been around forever, but it’s different now because our availability is so much better.”

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