Badlands. Good baseball players. Great people.
It’s the hope of Jeff Amos, head coach at the Badlands Baseball Academy, that the players who find their way to Oyen, Alberta to take the field in this small town near the Saskatchewan border develop into solid athletes and even more dependable people.
That means time spent away from the ball diamond – either in the classroom or helping local charities – is just as important as player performance at the plate or on the mound.
We posed nine questions to the Badgers’ coach about academics and athletics in Oyen as part of our “1 Thru 9” look at the baseball academies in Alberta. This is what Amos had to say:
1. How long has Badlands Baseball Academy been up and running?
The academy was established in in 2010/2011. We opened our doors for our first season in September of 2011.
2. What is the age range of the students you work with?
Our student athletes range from Grade 10 to Grade 12, with an age range of 15 to 18 years old.
3. What are the academic requirements at Badlands Academy?
Our academy holds academics in high regard. Since we are run in partnership with our school board – the Prairie Rose School Division – school has, and always will, come first. Our coaches meet with school staff on a regular basis, assuring that all of our student athletes are obtaining their personal best in each of their classes. Our students are expected to maintain good grades, with the goal of post-secondary education in mind.
4. Tell us about your annual schedule of games that players participate in.
Each year our goal is to play approximately 70 games through exhibition weekends and tournaments. Just like the other Alberta academies we are fortunate to have a high level of competition close by. We play a number of games each year against other high performance academies within the area.
5. What kind of travel are the players exposed to?
We make a couple annual trips to B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Las Vegas is always a student and family favourite each winter, too. We take part in a tournament there and play some elite local high schools in exhibition games during the trip.
Our goal is to expose our players to as much competition each year as possible in order to not only improve their own skill level, but also to see how many great players there are out there trying to accomplish the same goals they are.
6. What amenities and facilities do you have to offer your students?
We are very fortunate to offer our players all the tools they need to be successful on and off the field. Our clubhouse is located directly beside Doug Lehman Field and includes a locker room, weight room, player lounge and games room. It also has multiple TVs and bathroom facilities.
Our indoor facility is located a short drive out of town. With 13,000 square feet of turfed area it easily houses three full length hitting cages and bullpens, as well as a large area to work on all aspects of defense.
7. What can you tell us about your coaches and support staff?
Our coaches have been with us since day one. With years of experience playing ball in both the U.S. and Canada, our staff have developed relationships across North America that are used each year to help move our student athletes forward once they’re ready to leave the academy.
We take pride in doing everything we can as a staff to help provide our students with great experiences and skill development. Our experience from a coaching and playing standpoint, as well as even a life standpoint, allow our staff to assist our players both on and off the field. Both in the classroom and on the field our coaches help our students reach their potential as players and people.
8. What are the tuition fees for students and what do those fees cover?
Our tuition fees are $15,000 per student. This includes everything from housing and food, to school and travel. Each player also participates in fundraising activities for the academy.
9. What defines success for a graduate of Badlands Baseball Academy?
What determines our success is simple: we want all of our student athletes from across the country to leave the academy better players and better human beings than when they arrived. With hard work at practice each day the baseball side of the academy will assure skill development and opportunities.
It’s the “life skill” part of the program that we are the most proud of. Leaving home at a young age is a difficult thing to do, as well as a major commitment from our students. We respect and understand that. In return we want all of our young men to leave with a new appreciation of the sport, community, self confidence, maturity and the ability to not only succeed at the college baseball level, but long after in all aspects of life.