In his four years with the Okanagan College Coyotes baseball program, third baseman Garrett Wiese has become a model student-athlete for the collegiate baseball program, now in its sixth season in operation in Kelowna.
A recruit from small-town Alberta, Wiese arrived in Kelowna as an unpolished talent who has turned into the a veteran leader and a player that plans to graduate from OC with a degree from the school’s highly-regarded business program.
“It’s been great,” said Wiese as the Coyotes got set for its home-opening weekend in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC).”Kelowna is one of the nicest places to play baseball. It’s great pretty-much year-round and the OC business program is one of the best in Canada. This is probably the most talented team we’ve had in my four years. We’ve been pretty good all four years but the bounces just didn’t go our way.”
In the past six years, the Coyotes have won its CCBC division twice but have never got past the league semi-final. This year the club may have its best chance to stand atop the CCBC, a five team league that features the Prairie Baseball Academy (Lethbridge), Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops), the University of Calgary and the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute.
“We have about half of our guys who are returning from last year,” said head coach Geoff White. “It’s a little bit of an older group this year and a really strong core of older pitchers which should make us pretty tough this year. We’ve got some talented young freshman coming in so it should be a nice blend of older guys and some younger talented guys.”
Wiese will anchor the infield this weekend when the Coyotes open up at home against the University of Calgary as well as against the PBA Dawgs.
For Wiese, the next 28 conference games as well as playoffs are his final games of collegiate eligibility. As a student-athlete he won’t be able to finish his degree in the four years he has been playing and plans to come back and finish his schooling next year. It means he has to balance post collegiate playing opportunities with the importance of getting his degree. If he returns to OC next year he won’t be eligible to play.
“That’s tough, I’ve been playing baseball my whole life so it’s going to be tough to let go,” he said. “I’m always open. If there is an opportunity to play ball at a higher level I’ll be the first one to jump on the bus. But I’ve put four years into getting a business degree so I might as well finish it up.”
Wiese could have an opportunity to return as a graduate assistant coach, keeping his foot in the game he loves.
In the meantime, he and the rest of the Coyotes are focussed on the task at hand, looking forward to a 28 game CCBC schedule.
“This (CCBC schedue) is everything we work for,” said White. “These 28 conference games and the CCBC championship is what our guys have ben working for. Games count in the standings and a conference title and championship is on the line. Our guys are excited about opening up at home today.”
The Coyotes host Calgary at 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and also play Saturday at noon and 6 p.m. at Elk Stadium.