Donny Lee values education, his religious faith, helping others and playing baseball.
The 17-year-old Kelowna Secondary School grad will have a chance to experience all of the above beginning this fall at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
A right-handed pitcher, Lee has landed a four-year academic scholarship at the small, liberal arts school and will play Div. 3 baseball this coming fall with the Wheaton College Thunder.
Lee, who played B.C. midget AAA this season with the West Kelowna D’Backs, was discovered by the Thunder staff last summer at a camp in Rockland, Calif.
“It’s a huge step for me,” said Lee. “I’m a little nervous but very excited. I really like Kelowna, but I feel to grow as a person and learn more about the world, it’s important for me to move away. I want to pursue a pro baseball career, I know that’s a dream, but with this opportunity there’s still hope.”
In Grade 10, Lee played with the Okanagan Athletics, then last season spent the 2012 campaign with the South Okanagan Tigers based out of Penticton.
Tigers’ coach Junior DeLeon enjoyed coaching Lee and sees it as great opportunity for the KSS grad.
“It’s the right place for Donny, he’s going to a school where he’s going to get an education and the bonus is, he’s going to get to play some college ball,” said DeLeon. “It’s always great for kids from the Okanagan to get a chance to play in the States.
“With the work ethic he has, the great attitude, and being a real team player, he should do well down there.”
Wheaton College plays in the Central College Illiniois Wisconsin (CCIW), the most competitive Div. 3 conference in the country which has produced a number of professional players.
WC is also a highly-ranked Christian college in the U.S., another factor in Lee’s decision to attend the school of some 3,000 students.
“We’ll be going on mission trips to third-world countries, doing things like helping other people who aren’t as fortunate as we are, so I’m looking forward to that part of it, too,” he said.
Without his faith and the support of family and friends, Lee said none of what awaits him would have been attainable.
“First and foremost, I’m grateful to God for making this possible,” he said. “I have to thank my family who has supported me and believed in me, and my close friends who stuck with me when no one else thought I could do this.”
Lee will be enrolled applied health sciences program, with an eye on becoming a doctor or athletic trainer. Lee will leave for Wheaton College on Aug. 19.