OTTAWA – The St. Francis Xavier Baseball Academy in Edmonton, Alberta is now in its fourth year. The Academy, which is based at the St. Francis Xavier High School, started with a few student/athletes. Now, that population has grown to 65 and continues to get higher.
The major reason behind the quick success of the academy according to Head Baseball Coordinator Mark Randall is simply what the program offers students.
“We have added more student/athletes on a consistent basis from the start,” says Randall, “but the program has been built around the fact that we have excellent instructors that prepare the players for the next level and the fact that we can offer this in a school setting that also earns them credits towards their High School Diploma.”
The instructors that Randall mentions include Gord Gerlach, a former Canadian Senior and Junior National Team coach and current coach with the Edmonton Cracker-Cats of the independent Golden League. Sheen Bromley, who has spent time coaching in Australia and is a coach with the Edmonton Big River Prospects of the Western Major Baseball League and Randall himself, who is a former Minor League pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies and a former coach with the Canadian Senior and Junior National Team as well as a scout with the Houston Astros.
They also have strength and conditioning coordinator, Nate Hay, who is currently the Assistant Therapist with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos.
“We have a great staff that gets the most out of the students,” says Randall.
The philosophy of the academy is the long term development of the student/athlete by providing individuals the opportunity to enhance baseball skills as well as creating a positive environment for learning.
“There are two main focuses that we have which is to offer a baseball program at a grass roots level for everyone and to get students off to college or university after their high school career is complete,” explains Randall.
Although they approach the game at a grass roots level, the academy competes at a very high level with 40 games a year in a fall instructional schedule with trips to Washington State, Calgary, Okotoks and to other academies such as Vauxhall. They also make an annual Spring Training trip to Florida to compete against high school teams from the state as well as schools from Pennsylvania.
They also regularly compete with Canadian College Teams and teams from Western Canada and the North-western United States.
As interest in the academy grows, Randall says he continues to try and find ways to keep the program fresh in order to keep adding value to the program.
“With more interest comes more responsibility which includes trying to billet and house players from outside the province. With more students in the program, more opportunities will need to be researched as far as playing games and getting evaluators who make decisions in front of these players, whether that’s scouts or recruiters.”
“Ultimately, the reputation and the quality of the academy has gotten out and people are calling me now about players instead of the first few years where I had to do a lot of groundwork on finding players a school that would fit for them.”
For inquiries about the St. Francis Xavier Baseball Academy, contact Mark Randall at 780-489-2571, ext. 338 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.