A state of the art training facility will soon be a reality for the UBC Thunderbirds baseball program and players across the Lower Mainland, thanks to an anonymous $3.5 million donation.
The 12,500 square-foot facility is scheduled for completion by September 2015, and will be located next to the baseball field at UBC’s Thunderbird Park.
The centre will feature four full size-batting cages, three pitching mounds and a high-tech camera system to monitor bat speed, pitching physics and more.
It will also feature a performance institute designed to hone skills among players ranging from eight years old to professional-level athletes. There will be hitting leagues, camps and clinics run year-round by exceptional coaches.
“There has been a huge void in the Vancouver market for a facility like this, and we are grateful for the generous donation,” says Terry McKaig, UBC’s baseball head coach. “We will have the opportunity to train young players the same way we train our varsity players. The more success kids have when they are younger, the better chance they will keep playing the game.”
“The indoor training centre provides the opportunity for our team to train year round in an environment that is truly high performance,” says Ashley Howard, managing director of UBC Athletics and Recreation. “Quality facilities are a key pillar for a culture of excellence in our varsity program. The facility also provides the anchor to help develop the pathway for baseball in Vancouver with our community partners.”
After serving as UBC baseball’s head coach for 18 years, McKaig will step down at the end of this season to take on the new role of Director of Baseball. A Canada-wide search for a new coach will begin in April.
UBC has a reputation for being a top collegiate baseball program in Canada, and has competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) since 1997. Eighteen former UBC players have been selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) amateur draft – including pitcher Jeff Francis, who is entering his 14th season of professional baseball and plays for the Toronto Blue Jays.