July 24th, 2024

Bulls alumni reflect on early days

By Lethbridge Herald on July 2, 2024.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward From left, former Bulls Todd Hubka, Craig Hern, Ryan Handley Mike Coe, Doug Jones, Bryce Coppieters, Denny Puszkar and Myles Fletcher were on hand for alumni weekend.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Bulls hosted an alumni weekend over this past weekend for former players during their 25th anniversary season and it was a chance for players to reminisce during their playing days with the team.

Raymond’s Bryce Coppieters was a part of the celebration and was a part of the original 1999 roster and played a couple of seasons with the Bulls.

“I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now,” said Coppieters.

“The guys that came together, (the) camaraderie, the work it took to play and for this whole organization to operate, it’s pretty cool to see this product still on the field today.”

Coppieters thought the team was a work in progress at that time as part of the Saskatchewan Major Baseball League.

“It was a work in progress because we (didn’t) really know where it was going to go, and how far it was going to expand, and who was going to come watch our games and how we’d compete in the league,” said Coppieters.

Coppieters thought the team  found their groove in the latter half of the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

“It was really good baseball,” he said.

Coppieters thinks baseball will continue to grow with the Bulls around.

“I think the Bulls (and) doing what they do, and the sponsorship and I guess the commitment of  fans that come and watch these teams,” said Coppitiers.

Coppieters remembers those road trips in mini vans to Saskatchewan for doubleheaders right after playing a doubleheader the night before at home.

“We stayed in some pretty crappy hotels, and just played baseball and we’d eat together every night,” he said.

“Boston Pizza was a place we all went to and yeah just the camaraderie being with the guys every night.”

Denny Puszkar was also an original roster player on the 1999 team from Regina.

“I had coach (Todd) Hubka with PBA and having him in a summer environment, it was just a completely different experience,” said Puszkar.

“So much fun, just a great group of guys, (a) really competitive group actually. Our pitching staff was unbelievable. I think we had six Division I arms and just so much fun. (The team) went to the final which was bit of a bonus of course.”

Puskar saw the Bulls having a huge impact on the league.

“When you think about what that league looked like back then and what it is now, like really Lethbridge keyed the expansion in Alberta for sure. I thought our management here did an excellent job establishing this program and it just took off in Alberta,” said Puskar.

Going to the 1999 finals sticks out as a memory for Puszkar.

“(That) was a great experience playing Moose Jaw in the final and we were right there of course,” said Puszkar.

“It would’ve been nice to win that sucker too of course but that was it.”

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