The Beavers have landed in Okotoks.
The three-time NCAA tournament champion, 26-time conference winning Oregon State University Beavers have made the Okotoks Dawgs state-of-the-art facilities their home for their nine-day training camp representing a milestone moment years in the making.
“For the Dawgs, this marks a lot for us,” said Dawgs Academy general manager Tyler Hollick. “It’s maybe the most successful baseball program in the last 25 years in college baseball and for them to come up to Okotoks, Alberta, and train with the high school academy at Seaman Stadium is a big deal.”
The relationship with OSU has been forged over many years.
Former Beavers Tyler Graham and Andy Peterson have been members of the Okotoks Dawgs collegiate team staffs, a role Peterson continues to have as the infield/third base coach.
The pipeline from Okotoks to Corvallis has grown over the years as well with Dawgs Academy graduates Gavin Logan and Micah McDowell, entering his senior season at OSU, playing starring roles for the Beavers.
“We started building that relationship with them, started building that rapport with OSU and started sending some guys there,” Hollick said. “The recruiting co-ordinator at the time, the legendary Pat Bailey, called me in 2018 and suggested they might want to do something like this.
“They were planning for it that following fall, getting ready for it and then COVID hit in 2020 and kind of pushed everything back.”
The Dawgs Academy has also visited the Corvallis campus in 2019 and 2022 as part of its fall college tours.
For Hollick, the experience is about providing the Beavers with a professional experience.
“This is the fifth year we’ve been talking about it and finally were able to put stakes in the ground,” Hollick said. “When we go down there as a high school academy, they treat us first-rate, they don’t big league us, they’re super respectful and they’re part of teaching the game and teaching our guys how to play at the highest level.
“We just want to make sure we’re returning the favour.”
It’s an opportunity for not only academy athletes to learn, but the coaching staff as well to pick up a few tricks of the trade.
“Our coaches are here all day learning and taking notes, our players are hanging around quite a bit, hitting and watching practice,” Hollick said. “They don’t play a competitive game until next February and the urgency, the attention to detail is really special and something that our staff is already picking up.
“It’s that extra motivator, maybe a couple extra drills or practice plans here or there that we can do and apply to our programs.”
The nine-day schedule features the Beavers taking on the Dawgs Academy players in a pair of exhibition contests on Sept. 16 at 6:15 p.m. In addition, OSU will hold intrasquad games on Sept. 19 and 21 at 2 p.m.
Hollick said his hope is academy players are able to both enjoy the unique opportunity and take advantage of all of the learning available.
“Not all of them are going to get to play Division 1 baseball, not all of them are going to get to play professional baseball,” Hollick said. “For a lot of our guys, this will be the best team we play all year, it’s not high school U18 baseball in Canada or even across the United States.
“I hope they really enjoy the experience because this is unprecedented, anywhere in Canada with a Division 1 program coming up and playing and training in Canada.”
For more information, visit dawgsacademy.ca.