New crop of Falcons set for liftoff
At just 19 and a long way from home, Cody Dickson couldn't be blamed if he was a little nervous about the prospects of spending his first summer in Canada.
Quite the contrary insists the pitcher from Arlington, Texas who sees his first tour of duty with the West Coast League's Kelowna Falcons as a tremendous opportunity for growth—both as a player and as a person.
Besides, a summer playing ball in the Okanagan came highly recommended to Dickson from a former Falcon and fellow Texas product, Jordan Westra.
"Jordan said it was just a blast playing here, and my coach recommended it too, so it was a pretty easy decision, I thought why not," said Dickson, who plays for Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas. "It's a fun trip. Meeting new people is going to be great, it's a different experience being out of the States, a long way from home growing up and playing baseball. I'm really looking forward to it."
Dickson will be in uniform when the Kelowna Falcons open their 2011 WCL season this weekend in Bellingham with a three-game series against the Bells.
While the Falcons' 33-man roster is once again dominated by American-born talent, the club has never recruited more Canadian content.
The Falcons will have seven Canucks on the 2011 team—including Kelowna product Graham Drope—while an eighth is on a 10-day tryout.
Four of them are among the top players from the UBC Thunderbirds program, including 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher David Otterman.
"Collectively we kind of all made the decision together, the four of us signed the paper at the same time to come here to Kelowna, we all saw it as a good opportunity," said Otterman, a native of Coquitlam and sophomore with UBC. "For me personally, it just presents a really good opportunity to play against some of the best collegiate players in the world here and that was really appealing for me.
"Another goal is to win, I want to win and that's why you play this game. It's early, but things look good here."
Falcons GM Mark Nonis said the new record high for Canadian talent on the roster is due to an ever-increasing talent pool.
"Every year my strategy is to put a team on the field that's going to win," said Nonis, "but it just so happens the Canadian players are getting better every year, so I'm able to recruit more and more Canadians, and I want to promote local talent as much as possible.
"The league is getting so big that schools are calling up from all over the place and it's not hard to fills holes on your roster with good players, wherever they're from."
The way the 2011 roster has been constructed, Nonis expects speed and pitching will be the team's trademarks.
"That's what we're based on. We've got a lot of great arms and guys are going to make the game move. There's going to be a lot of hit-and-runs, delayed steals, a lot of action, things like that. It should be an exciting team to watch."
After this weekend's series with Bellingham, the Falcons will travel to Wenatchee for a three-game series beginning Tuesday, June 7.
Kelowna's home opener against Langley has been moved to Saturday, June 11 so as not to conflict with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. The home opener features free admission.
The Falcons are sad that they won't be in town for the Second Annual City Chase Kelowna, but luckily have found a way to get involved.
If you're up to play the part of a Falcon, head to our home stadium with this Capital News article to complete your next ChasePoint Challenge.
(Hint: You may want to make a friend along the way).