Skip to content

Pote proud to lead experienced Dawgs coaching staff

Baseball: Manager Mitch Schmidt to miss season on medical leave

The Big Bear won’t be roaming the Okotoks Dawgs dugout this season. In his stead, a familiar face, baseball lifer and World Series champion will fill the seat. 

In a video posted to social media on April 12, Okotoks Dawgs manager Mitch ‘Big Bear’ Schmidt confirmed he will be on medical leave and won’t be back with the boys of summer in 2023, but has and will continue to play a huge role in building the roster of the defending Western Canadian Baseball League champions. 

“Some of you have heard the rumblings that I will not be able to make it back to Okotoks this summer,” said Schmidt, who’s in his 17th year on the Nebraska-based Bellevue University Bruins coaching staff. “This is true, I will be on medical leave. Coaches Dave Robb, Andy Peterson, Joe Sergent and Lou Pote and I have been working hard all off-season with recruiting to make sure that we have all the right Dawgs on the field to bring Okotoks another championship. 

“Lou will fill my chair while I’m on medical leave. I feel extremely comfortable handing the reins over to Lou. I know he’ll do a fantastic job. I wish you all the best of luck, go Dawgs.” 

Schmidt, a gregarious presence in the dugout and in the community, has guided the Dawgs to tremendous success on the diamond, with two titles in three full seasons at the helm. 

He joined Okotoks for the 2018 season, led the Dawgs to the WCBL championship in 2019 and once again in 2022 on the heels of a couple of seasons either cancelled or restricted due to the pandemic. 

Pote, who will serve as interim manager, has a couple of rings on his fingers as well, including one of the World Series variety. 

The former relief pitcher was part of the Anaheim Angels’ MLB championship team in 2002, the year the Orange County outfit knocked off Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants in a memorable seven-game affair, to highlight a 21-year professional career. 

The 51-year-old has been a fixture with the Okotoks Dawgs Academy since 2015, coaching the prolific Dawgs’ 15U AAA squad over past seasons, including a provincial title-winning squad in 2022, where he plies his trade as the director of player development for the academy. 

“It means that I’ve got a lot of trust within the organization that they have the confidence to give me the opportunity to do this,” said Pote. “At first, I was a little hesitant just because I didn’t want it to effect coaching the 15U team, which I’ll be able to do a lot of, so that was my biggest thing. 

“But just having the trust in the organization to allow me to be able to do this is really cool.” 

A plethora of academy graduates of which Pote coached will be back with the collegiate Dawgs this summer. 

“It’s going to be fun because I’ve seen them grow up in the academy,” Pote said. “That’s the really cool part that I look forward to, being around those guys after a couple of years being apart and watching them from the stands to being with them in the dugout is going to be fun.”  

Along with Pote, coaches Robb, Sergent and Peterson will be back with the squad this summer as bench coach, pitching coach and infield/third base coach, respectively. 

Pote said the experienced staff will be invaluable from their knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the league to knowing how to balance rest with the impact of travel. 

“It helps big time,” he said. “Along with having the core group of players come back, that knowledge and experience in our coaching staff in the WCBL is huge. I’m going to pick their brains day in and day out. 

“I’ve known (Robb) for years, he actually certified me way back when I first got up here to do those NCCP courses in Alberta. Me and Joe played against each other professionally, when he was in Calgary and I was in Edmonton, so I’ve known him for years and worked with him in the academy and Andy, I pick his brain all the time with infield stuff for our guys.  

“Everybody brings so much value to the staff.” 

Putting the team together has been a collaborative effort, the coach added.  

“If somebody pops up, we throw it out there, we’ll have Zoom meeting a couple of times a month and talk it out, we’re constantly texting,” he said. “Maybe there’s a pitcher that has a lot of innings that we were going to count on to start, it’s just that communication with everyone with building a roster. 

“And the core group of guys are coming back. Not that it’s ever easy, but when you have a core that’s come through the academy and come through and played here a couple of years in a row and have won, it makes things a lot easier because they know the expectations here. 

“When you’re in this program, what you expect is nothing less than a championship and if we don’t get a banner, it’s not a successful season.” 

Baseball season is just around the corner with the Dawgs opening the 2023 WCBL campaign at home on May 26 against the Brooks Bombers. 

For more information, visit 

Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks