October 22nd, 2020

A reason to celebrate – Prairie Baseball Academy hosts first alumni weekend


By Woodard, Dale on September 15, 2020.

Kaiden Evans-Anderson of the Prairie Baseball Academy gets some high-fives as he crosses the plate during exhibition play against Vauxhall Academy Saturday afternoon at Lloyd Nolan Yard. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

As they head into the fall portion of their schedule, the Prairie Baseball Academy took time to recognize their past on the weekend.

It began with a tip off the ball cap to an instrumental individual to the PBA program with the fourth annual Keith Jorgensen Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament Friday and continued into Saturday with the PBA’s first Alumni Weekend.

Of course, there was some baseball to be played as well as the PBA hosted the Vauxhall Jets in exhibition play Saturday and Sunday at Lloyd Nolan Yard.

Both the golf tournament and alumni weekend were slated for May before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, but having both events together early fall and on the same weekend worked out well.

“We were really pleased to get it in considering it was supposed to be in May and it turned out awesome to have it in September,” said Prairie Baseball Academy board member Kevin Kvame.

“So we expect that next year we will tie it in with the Alumni Weekend again. It was great to have all the players out there. Normally we have the varsity team in town for the tournament, but we had all the players there, so there was a lot more manpower. It was a chance for the golfers to meet the players and it seemed to go really well considering the circumstances we are under.”

A total of 117 golfers teed off in this year’s memorial tournament Friday at Paradise Canyon Golf Resort.

“We had room for 120, which was down a bit from the usual due to the circumstances this year,” said Kvame of the tournament in honour of Jorgensen, who was instrumental in the creation of the PBA program as well as the annual golf tournament for over 20 years.

“All the proceeds raised from the tournament go into the Scholarship Fund to support the student athletes who are going to Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge. Those are awarded in the spring to the athletes and it should raise between $20,000 and $25,000.”

After golf Friday, the weekend shifted to Lloyd Nolan Yard Saturday where the PBA’s inaugural Alumni Weekend took place.

“This is the first annual and every year we are going to grow on it and make it better,” said Craig Paskal, president of the PBA Alumni Association. “There were quite a few people that were going to come from out of town, but just due to everything they couldn’t.”

On Saturday, alumni and fans alike enjoyed a warm fall day at the ball park as the PBA and Vauxhall played a double-header.

“It’s always good to reconnect with old teammates and support the program however we can,” said Paskal, who played for the PBA in 2003 and now lives in Iron Springs, where he works as a farmer. “That is our goal as the Alumni Association, to keep supporting and pushing the PBA forward.”

The Alumni Weekend was a chance for the former players to pay it forward.

“I think for a lot of the alumni it’s more what it did for us on setting us up in life and the things we learned and how it got us all started,” said Paskal.

“We’re just at that point where we’re really trying to ramp up the alumni because we recognize that we want to keep it strong and give opportunities to other people, other people who are coming into college or university.”

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