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Pandemic Forces Cancellation of NightOwls, HarbourCats 2021 Schedules

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The virus continues to win — in life, and in sports.

 

With great sadness, following extensive evaluations and consultations with Canadian West Coast League (WCL) teams in Kamloops and Edmonton, the ownership group that leads both the Nanaimo NightOwls and the Victoria HarbourCats is announcing the cancellation of their 2021 seasons due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

For the HarbourCats, this will be the second, devastating season in a row with no baseball at Wilson’s Group Stadium, while the NightOwls were gearing up and looking forward to their inaugural season in the league under the brand-new lights at historic Serauxmen Stadium in Nanaimo.

 

The Edmonton Riverhawks and Kamloops NorthPaws were also looking forward to their first year in the league. The Kelowna Falcons previously announced their withdrawal from the 2021 WCL season in March. The 10 U.S.-based WCL teams, thanks to more effective vaccine roll-outs and COVID-19 mitigation efforts in Washington and Oregon, will be playing a modified, U.S.-only schedule, with teams being allowed to have fans in some capacity.

 

Unfortunately for the Canadian teams, given the ongoing nature of the pandemic — the recent rise in case numbers and variants,  the Provincial Health Officer’s guidelines and current and possible future restrictions in both British Columbia and Alberta, along with the ongoing Canadian-US Border closure — ownership felt they had no other choice but to cancel the 2021 season.

 

“There are simply too many things working against us,” said Jim Swanson, currently the GM of both the HarbourCats and the NightOwls. “We certainly appreciate the efforts of the NorthPaws and Riverhawks in truly exploring all options for a 2021 season, they will be great additions to the WCL and the Canadian side of the league, now starting in 2022.”

 

“We are also very appreciative of both our fan base and our sponsorship base, who have continued to support both teams and remain patient,” added Swanson.  “The groundswell of support in Nanaimo has been nothing short of tremendous, with major partners such as Island Savings, Save On Foods, Panago on Fourth, and Mid Island Co-op to name a few, coming on board as inaugural partners. And in Victoria, we appreciate that the long-time partners we have cultivated over the last few years, are sticking by our side and will be ready to roll again in 2022.

 

“This is hard on our staff and coaches, and we now give players time to find places to develop further this summer, likely somewhere in the U.S. Make no mistake — the HarbourCats will be back at Wilson’s Group Stadium, and the NightOwls are going to get off the ground in 2022.”

 

Fans who have purchased tickets, or ticket vouchers for both HarbourCats and NightOwls 2021 games, will receive full value for their purchases. Season Ticket holders who have paid in full, will automatically have their tickets rolled over into the 2022 season.  Fans with 2020 or 2021 specific game tickets (HarbourCats) or 2020 or 2021 flex pack vouchers (both teams), will be able to redeem those for tickets into the 2022 season once that schedule is announced.  

 

With regard to the 2022 schedule, there is hope that the league makes developing that a priority over the next few weeks, despite the fact that the 10 U.S. teams will be playing in 2021.  “One of the best things that the league can do for the Canadian teams right now, in fact for all the teams, ” said Christian J. Stewart, the HarbourCats Assistant GM, Ticketing and Media, “is to develop and release a 2022 schedule as early as possible.  In that way, our teams can immediately start marketing and planning for that schedule, rather than having to wait until the late fall, when the WCL schedule is traditionally released.”

 

Both the HarbourCats and the NightOwls will continue to build to what will certainly be a celebratory return to baseball in 2022 and will find ways to add special events when allowed to do so.  Season tickets, 10-game flex packs, gift cards and merchandise will continue to be available for both teams, and new sponsors are of course welcome to join both teams and be part of that celebration.  Substantial stadium improvements will continue in Nanaimo and both teams will continue to be involved as key members of their communities.

 

“While it will be another tough summer missing our fans, the excitement of the game and the fun things we do at the park,” noted Stewart, “we know that our fans and those in Nanaimo will be back in force in 2022 and that is the motivation that we will all use to get us through this.  Opening day in 2022 is going to be one heck of a party and we can’t wait to see everyone there!”

 

Further details and updates on ticket exchanges and timing, as well as other teams updates can be found on the team’s respective websites at www.harbourcats.com and www.nanaimonightowls.com. Fans are also urged to sign-up for the e-mail lists of both teams and follow both teams on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for all the latest news.

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Victoria HarbourCats – 2024 March Break Kids Camps Now Open for Registration

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The Victoria HarbourCats Youth Development Program is pleased to announce that registration is now open for 2024 March Break Camps over the weeks of March 18-22  and 25-29.

All camps are half-day camps and split into two distinct age groups….8-10 year olds (from 9AM to 12 NOON) and 11-15 year olds (12:30pm to 3:30pm) as noted below.

Camps are designed primarily for for existing youth players who are keen to improve their baseball skills with some extra training before their spring seasons begin.

All Camps take place INDOORS at the Edwards Family Training Centre – HarbourCats Indoor Facility, 1821 Cook Street.

Registration is available through the HarbourCats online store, “The Cat Shop” BY CLICKING HERE:

NOTE:  If you are a previous PLAYERS CLUB member that has prepaid for any 2024 camp and wants to be in these camps, please do not use the registration link, but instead, you MUST CONTACT chris@harbourcats.com to reserve your spot. All spots are limited and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. 

MARCH BREAK CAMP DETAILS:

2024 HarbourCats SPRING BREAK CAMPS – March 2024

Camp Dates: March 18-22 and March 25-29

ALL CAMPS APPROPRIATE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS AGES 8-15. 

PLEASE BE SURE TO REGISTER FOR THE APPROPRIATE AGE GROUP and if wanting BOTH weeks, to select both for purchase separately. SLOTS ARE LIMITED TO 15 players per group.

AGES 8-10, HALF DAY 9am to 12 Noon (WEEK 1 March 18-22) $200.00
AGES 8-10, HALF DAY 9am to 12 Noon (WEEK 2 March 25-29) $200.00
AGES 10-15, HALF DAY 12:30pm to 3:30pm (WEEK 1 March 18-22) $200.00
AGES 10-15, HALF DAY 12:30pm to 3:30pm (WEEK 2 March 25-29) $200.00

All camps will be run by Victoria Golden Tide Baseball players and coaches.

For anything custom like missing days, these can be prorated accordingly. In this case, please call the office at 778-265-0327 to register and ask for Christian.

 

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NorthPaws Add Jepson To Coaching Staff

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KAMLOOPS, BC—The Kamloops NorthPaws have added some local talent to their coaching staff for the 2024 West Coast League season.

The NorthPaws have agreed to terms with Riley Jepson of Kamloops.   Jepson is a graduate of the Kamloops Minor Baseball and Kamloops Riverdogs programs.  He will be the team’s hitting and infield coach.

“I am super excited to be back in a place where I got to play growing up and to be with a bunch of guys who want to advance their baseball careers,” Jepson says.  I hope to help them on their journeys. I, obviously had a lot of great coaches. I am hoping I can do the same for them.”

A first baseman, third baseman and outfielder, Jepson most recently played with Great Falls Montana in the Pioneer League in 2023.  He hit .374 with 120 hits and 49 runs batted in in 82 games.

Jepson had a ‘cup of coffee’ in the professional ranks. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 2022 and played with the Winston-Salem Dash, the Sox’s High-A affiliate.   While there, the 6’4” Jepson had 42 at bats, notching five hits, scoring a run, achieving one stolen base and had five runs batted in.

“I am hoping my extensive background will help the players focus on the summer,” he states.  “The summer is a grind for a lot of kids. They finish a 50-game college season and are instantly into another 50 game schedule. To help guide them after playing two 90 game seasons myself, I am hoping to teach them that it is a process. Not every day is going to be perfect. They need to learn how to grow from each day.”

The 26-year-old left the KMBA for a two-year stint with the University of Fraser Valley Cascades in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference.  He had a stellar career where he still holds the league’s record for best batting average in a single season (.489).   He is still fourth in the CCBC history books in walks with 27 (2018, 2019).

At Fraser Valley, he was also named a CCBC all-star and was the leagues top hitter for two years in a row (2018, 2019).  He also helped lead them to their first league championship in 2019.

Following that, he went to the University of Texas at Tyler (NCAA Div II) for two seasons (2020-21). While there, he was a 2nd team “All Lone Star” selection and co-Male Athlete of the Year.

Jepson isn’t a stranger to coaching. He spent three years as an assistant coach at UFV. He is now the Cascades head coach.

Jepson joins Pitching Coach TC Fairfield as members of Bautista’s staff.  He hopes the fact that he is close in age to the players on the Kamloops roster will be a benefit.

“Having Riley joining us is great,” says NorthPaws head coach Jose Bautista about Jepson. “ It means a lot to bring two new coaches that bring more energy and positivity to the team. I think we are going to have the best season.”

“I actually got in touch with Jose through my old coach at Great Falls (Tommy Thompson),” Jepson stated. “Tommy knows Jose and told him I was interested in helping with the North Paws. Fortunately, this worked out.”

Jepson was a multi-sport athlete growing up. He played hockey with the Thompson Blazers in 2012-13 before playing two seasons with the KIJHL Sicamous Eagles.  He played 52 games with the Eagles in 2012-13 where he scored 14 goals and added 17 assists.  He also played one game in the BC Hockey League with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.  His last year of Junior hockey was 2013-14 where he had 12 goals and 15 assists in 52 games with the Eagles.

The NorthPaws open their 2024 West Coast League season May 31st at Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium.  Their opponents will be the Victoria HarbourCats.

Tickets and full schedule information are available from the Kamloops NorthPaws website.

For More Information:  Jenna Forter – General Manager – jforter@northpawsbaseball.ca

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Taylor Swift

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In conjunction with our partners at Maxxam Insurance, the Nanaimo NightOwls have a pair of tickets to give away to one of the Taylor Swift concerts in December, 2024 at BC Place in Vancouver.

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HOW TO ENTER

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Entering is simple! You just need to come to one, two, or all three of our qualifying games on July 8th, July 9th and July 10th (all against Kelowna), obtain and fill out a ballot at each game you attend and drop it in the entry drum.

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The final draw will take place near the end of the game on Wednesday, July 10th. You do not have to be present to win, but of course by coming to all three games, you can maximize your chances!

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And as a bonus, fans who buy single game tickets or renew vouchers for these games in advance, or who lock in season tickets by March 31st, 2024, can receive additional bonus entries (see below)!

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Here are all the nitty, gritty entry details! Please read carefully!

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All fans who hold tickets for the NightOwls games on Monday July 8th, Tuesday July 9th and Wednesday July 10th AND who fill in a ballot at the ballpark as noted below will be eligible for the draw.

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All ticket holders who enter the gates during these games, including season ticket holders and single game ticket purchasers, as well as walk-up ticket purchasers on the days of each game, will receive ONE paper ballot form for each ticket held upon entry.

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This ballot MUST be filled in and DEPOSITED in the contest entry drum at the ballpark. Ballots will be date and color coded with only the ballot for a particular game being handed out on that day.

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Note: If you do NOT attend one or more of the three games that you hold tickets for, your ticket is NOT automatically eligible for an entry unless it was one purchased prior to March 31, 2024 (see BONUS ENTRIES below). You must enter the stadium and get a paper ballot for entry for each game.

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Note: Ballots will NOT BE ISSUED either in advance, or after the fact, for games that you have tickets for but did not attend. If you have tickets for all THREE games, you MUST attend all three games to receive individual ballots for each game.

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Note: Fans should ensure they get their ballot forms upon entry. NO ADDITIONAL BALLOTS WILL BE GIVEN OUT INSIDE THE STADIUM.

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BONUS ENTRIES!

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Maximize your chances to win buy purchasing early!!

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Any SINGLE GAME TICKETS for the three qualifying games purchased on-line (SELECT YOUR TICKETS) or at the NIGHTOWLS Office ON OR BEFORE MARCH 31, 2024 will receive ONE bonus entry into the draw.

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Assuming you attend the game with your ticket, this will give you TWO entries total, per ticket.

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Any 10-Game Flex Pack vouchers that are redeemed for a game ticket for any of the three qualifying games on or BEFORE MARCH 31, 2024 will receive ONE bonus entry into the draw. (Note: These exchanges must be done in person at the NightOwls office)

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All existing PAID 2024 Season Ticket holders (as of February 6) will receive TWO bonus entries into the draw for each season ticket seat held.

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All Season Ticket RENEWALS and NEW Season Ticket purchases that are made on or before MARCH 31, 2024 will receive TWO bonus entries into the draw for each season ticket held.

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NOTE: Any Season Ticket renewals or purchases, flex pack redemptions, or Single Game sales for these games AFTER MARCH 31, 2024 will not be eligible for the bonus entries, but will still be eligible to receive an entry form when they attend any of the three games during the promotion.

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IN SUMMARY:

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Attend the games July 8th, July 9th and July 10th, obtain and fill out a ballot at each game and drop it in the entry drum!

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Pre-purchase single game tickets on or before March 31st for any of these games to get ONE bonus entry per ticket!

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Exchange ticket vouchers on or before March 31st for any of these games to get ONE bonus entry per ticket!

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Become a Season Ticket holder (new or renew) on or before March 31st to receive TWO bonus entries per seat. (All paid Season Ticket Holders will automatically get their two bonus entries)

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Come to the games and have some fun!

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DRAW DATE: July 10th, 8th inning of the game against Kelowna.
PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE AT:

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ONLINE – SELECT YOUR TICKETS – Be sure you are ordering SINGLE GAME TICKETS from our one and only ticketing partner Select Your Tickets, or you may not receive your bonus entries. There are a ton of secondary ticket selling sites out there, so make sure you are buying direct from our official partner.

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AT THE OFFICE – Serauxmen Stadium, 745 Third St.

– For both single game sales, ticket voucher exchanges and season ticket renewals and purchases.

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Questions? Please call us at 250-739-6113 or email tina@nanimonightowls.com.

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