The Prairie Land Public School Division Board of Trustees are thrilled to be working in partnership with the Village of Veteran in the creation of the Prairie Land High Performance Sports Centre that will become a staple for the offseason training of the Neutral Hills Baseball Academy.
Consort Principal Kevin Van Lagen and Program Director of the Academy, Drew Boyer, made a presentation to the Board of Trustees on Nov. 26, indicating the progress which has been made for this innovative idea for a School of Excellence Program that will open its doors to baseball players in September of 2020.
“What we want to do is we want to create a strong, sought-after baseball academy in the east central region,” began Boyer. “Our objective is really to establish a team that is community-driven with the focus of developing athletes. Being able to improve their skills in sport as well as achieving greater success in the classroom.”
The Board of Trustees is pleased to be working with the Village of Veteran.
Their willingness to partner on a project that will lead to the revitalization and repurpose of a curling rink that was closed a few years ago will now be opened to serve the community, school division and the athletes of the Neutral Hills Wranglers.
The Village of Veteran and Prairie Land have entered into a lease agreement that will see the Veteran Curling rink be renovated into a clubhouse for the Wranglers, a fitness facility and an indoor training centre that will be equipped with batting cages and pitching mounds.
This facility will also be made available for other minor sports and related activities within the area to help assist with training and provide fitness opportunities for the community.
“I think it’s extremely beneficial for not only the community of Consort but the other surrounding small communities in this area,” he said.
“People within the communities – to be able to train in indoor facilities because this area really doesn’t have anything for training wise indoor during the six months of the year we have winter so it will beneficial for community members alike just aside from the academy to train inside.”
Renovations of the field house will most likely begin in January with completion of the foundation and turn installation work scheduled for March.
By August, the entire facility will be finished with cages and equipment ready as well as the lobby.
September 2020 is when the academy will officially begin.
The academy will be based out of Consort with bussing to Veteran for use of the clubhouse.
Students will attend Consort School.
At the open house held on Tues. Dec. 10, the idea of having players from outside the area stay at the Consort Lodge was brought up as well as billet families stepping up to help.
For the first year, the Wranglers plan on giving local athletes first dibs at being recruited before a larger recruiting process takes place.
The academy is seeking players from all over western Canada to join.
“Right now we are starting the recruiting process and trying to get athletes in,” said Boyer.
“My focus right now is giving student-athletes in the local area the opportunity to join the academy. Will we recruit from other places? Yeah, absolutely. We are going to go a little bit all over into Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba but the key focus is this east central region of Alberta where we want to get our kids from.”
Boyer started his career in baseball by joining an academy in Edmonton in high school, one of the first of its kind for Alberta at the time.
“That one year that I was apart of it – it really helped me grow, not just as an athlete but also as a citizen and ever since then I wanted to help grow an academy and establish one because I think it is beneficial and I think it does give kids the opportunity to succeed, not just on the field but in the classroom as well,” said Boyer.
“I’m thrilled. I think it is a great opportunity for this area and I’m just excited for September 2020 to get underway and get the academy rolling,” he said.