Abbott & Canisius

By JOE McFARLAND

While Alberta fights for more pipeline capacity for its oil, there is another pipeline that has been a reliable source of energy for Canisius College.

The Buffalo, N.Y. school has tapped Vauxhall Academy of Baseball on several occasions for quality pitchers, including J.P. Stevenson and Jared Kennedy.

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Lethbridge-born righthander Levi Abbott recently added his name to that list, signing his Letter of Intent with the Griffins. Along with Adam Macko and Maddux Mateychuk, Abbott helped form a formidable pitching rotation that gave opposing hitters nightmares.

“Levi is the definition of a student-athlete,” Jets coach Les McTavish said. “He is a great student who values education coupled with an athletic framework and the drive to be great.”

The 6-foot-4, 175-pound hurler not only excelled in his time in Vauxhall, but returned home to play with the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Lethbridge Bulls to round out the 2019 season and didn’t look out of place at all.

“He has been a big-game pitcher his entire life, from the early Little League days in Lethbridge all the way to now in Vauxhall,” McTavish concluded. “He was one of our captains this season and will be sadly missed.”

We asked Abbott a few questions on Instagram recently about his travels in baseball and what he’s looking forward to at his new school, where he will be joined by Jets teammates Max Grant and Carlin Dick.

Q: What was it about Canisius that drew you to the school?

A: There were many options of schools to choose from, but it boiled down to some major key aspects of your college career. Number one, are you going to play? Number two, is it affordable? Number three, will you enjoy yourself?

For me, all of these things were checked off my list, while other schools were not. Another thing that stood out to me was the head coach, Matt Mazurek, made me feel like Canisius is a family.

Q: How excited were you to put pen to paper on the Letter of Intent?

A: In life and in the game of baseball, I love new beginnings. Signing the Letter of Intent was very exciting and brought the realization of this new chapter of my life starting.

Q: What has your experience at Vauxhall meant to you?

A: As a 15-year-old moving out of the house, it took a big leap of faith. A person can’t understand the relationships and experiences a kid has there unless they have done it before. As I look back at the decision I made, it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Q: Any coaches or teammates you want to single out for helping you along the way?

A: I don’t think I could single out anyone. However, my coaches and teammates have all been very supportive along the way.

Q: Any favourite memories of your time in Vauxhall?

A: My favourite memory was back in my grade 11 year in Las Vegas. The trip is supposed to be the highlight of the year and was it ever! That year, we were the first Canadian baseball team to win the Bishop Gorman tournament. It was a very special moment in Jets’ history and in my memory as well.

Q: How did you get into baseball in the first place?

I grew up playing just hockey in Victoria, B.C., then later moved to Georgia. I began my baseball journey in the US and never stopped playing. I must have started playing when I was seven in coach-pitch. My dad just threw me out there! Looking back on it though, I imagine that if I stayed in Canada, I probably would have never started baseball.

Q: You’ve had a few different highlights in your short career thus far. Tell us about your Tournament 12 (T12) experience and what you took away from it?

A: The T12 tournament is tonnes of fun and I wish more guys would be able to get the experience of playing at the Rogers Centre. Pitching on the mound is pretty intimidating but one I will never forget. And talking to one of the best, Roberto Alomar, was also very special.

Q: You also had the chance to pitch for your hometown Lethbridge Bulls late last season. What was that like for you?

A: It was definitely a big test and a great opportunity. I’d like to think that pitching for the Bulls as a high school player was a pretty awesome accomplishment to even begin with, let along the outcome. It was truly a different feeling pitching in front of a crowd that is quite a lot bigger than I am used to, but it was a ton of fun!

Q: How have you been spending your time with all of the social distancing and self-isolation rules in place?

A: I have been staying busy by getting my throwing and lifting done while working a job to make a couple bucks here and there. This has allowed a great opportunity to become closer with family and cherish home time.

Q: What does the game of baseball mean to you?

A: The game of baseball is more than life. It’s what I live for sometimes and I feel without it, I wouldn’t be myself. The relationships and experiences I have built and will build are the best part of the game. The game will never leave you if you respect it and play it right.

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