It’s not hard for Jake Lanferman to list off the coaches who have had an impact on his baseball career.
Sheen Bromley. Ray Brown. Taylor Burns. Ethan Elias. Mike Johnson. Chris Pritchett. Jason Chatwood. It’s a who’s who of baseball coaches in Alberta and Western Canada.
“It’s pretty cool being a head coach in the sense that I get to pick the brain of all the guys I got to play under,” the 25-year-old told Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast.
“Now I get to form my own mentality as a coach and my own philosophy and deliver it to these guys.”
Not far removed from his own decorated playing career, Lanferman is hoping to instill his recent knowledge on the next generation, while also building up a program that is in its relative infancy.
THE FIRST EYAS
Made up of student-athletes from the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan University, NAIT and Concordia University, the Edmonton Collegiate Baseball Club made its official CCBC debut in 2019.
Under coach Ethan Elias, the team finished with an 8-16 record in its first season.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of both the 2020 and 2021 spring seasons, although a few league games were played last fall to shake off some of the rust.
During the offseason, the Edmonton contingent made the connection with the new West Coast League Edmonton Riverhawks to become the Edmonton Collegiate Hawks, sharing the common home of RE/MAX Field.
SPREADING HIS WINGS
With Elias moving on to become the Riverhawks’ pitching coach as well as expanding his duties with Absolute Human Performance’s new academy, the CCBC Hawks were on the lookout for a new bench boss.
Fresh off his final season of college baseball with the UBC Thunderbirds of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and a summer season with the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Sylvan Lake Gulls, the outfielder began looking at his future prospects.
He then received a call from Elias, who said the Sherwood Park product would make a good close-to-home match.
It was an option Lanferman hadn’t really considered, but was excited about the possibilities.
“It’s awesome being able to work with guys locally and I think, for our program, just having guys being able to play at REMAX in our home city and represent Edmonton in front of family and friends,” he said. “It’s a whole new option that wasn’t available when I graduated high school.”
BIRD’S EYE VIEW
As a coach, Lanferman wants to be the motivational leader who doesn’t have to “put his foot down” often – and if he does, his troops will get the message.
The psychology major also wants his team to understand the value of the education they are receiving.
A decorated student-athlete himself, Lanferman was relegated to the sidelines for a full year because of an injury in 2018, forcing him to hunker down on his school work and take pride in his classes while rehabbing.
He leans on that experience when talking with his players today.
“You can only play so long,” Lanferman said. “That was always my thing: if you’re taking care of business in the classroom, you get to go play baseball and that was the best part of the day.”
He preaches time management to his players, who are busy balancing classes, exams and assignments with weight rooms, practices and games.
“Obviously, we want these players to become better baseball players,” the St. Francis Xavier Academy and Prospects Academy alum said. “But when it comes down to it, the academic excellence part of it is huge for me and huge for my staff.”
THE HOME NEST
Lanferman is also grateful to have some familiar faces joining him in the dugout.
Pitching coach Scott Gillespie is no stranger to baseball in Alberta, having also grown up in Sherwood Park and played together with the WCBL’s Edmonton Prospects.
Bench coach Nathan Coffin is also a capital region product, having spent most of his playing days in the St. Albert area.
And then there’s the 73-year-old Ray Brown.
A fixture of Alberta’s baseball scene for decades, Brown has taken turns as coach of the Prospects and now the Fort McMurray Giants.
“It’s pretty sweet with how much knowledge and everything he has underneath of him,” he said. “When you have someone with that kind of knowledge in the dugout all the time, I just think it makes my job that much easier.”
TIME TO FLY
At the end of the day, that job is to get wins and Lanferman hopes to get there by having his team play hard-nosed baseball.
“I want these guys to give it everything they have every day, day in and day out,” he said. “If they’re working as hard as they can and they’re being accountable, things will fall into place.”
Once the season is over and the players are ready to move on, the former Fort Hays State University outfielder hopes they walk away with not just baseball knowledge, but learn something about themselves as well.
“I want them to learn life lessons and understand how to go about their business the right way,” he said. “I want them to be prepared when they step out into the real world.”
The competitive spirit still burns bright inside the skipper, who knows he has a big task in front of him in turning the Hawks into a powerhouse of the CCBC.
READ MORE: Earned the ‘A’
“I think every year, we just want to make the program better and take baby steps into, obviously down the road, competing to win a CCBC championship,” Lanferman said.
On a personal level, he recently got into a master’s program for sports psychology, and would love to one day tie coaching into it.
How far that will take him is anyone’s guess. For now, he’s just happy to be giving back to the baseball community that gave him so much.
“Baseball in Alberta just continues to grow,” Lanferman concluded. “I just think the coaches are giving so much back and giving so much knowledge to the next generation and I think that’s the most important thing.”
It’s a contribution he’s happy to help make.