School is back in full swing, and that means another season of baseball for the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners.
The VIBI Mariners share the same team name as VIU’s sports teams and is made up of VIU students, although they are not affiliated with the university.
“It gets confusing to explain the connection sometimes,” said Jonathan Hodgson, the Communications Director for the VIBI. Not being a university accredited team poses some challenges for the players, who must be full-time VIU students in order to play, but are not given any special treatment as student athletes.
“Players aren’t allowed out of class early for games or practices,” Hodgson said. “Everybody here has to make baseball fit around their school schedule.”
The Mariners will spend the duration of the fall practicing, preparing, and fundraising in preparation for the start of the regular season in February. The fall season is important for the Mariners. This is the time where the team gets to do the most fundraising. At the end of October, the team holds its yearly 100-inning game fundraiser. This year, the team hopes to raise enough money for the team to travel to Tucson, Arizona, during study break this February. The trip will give the team a chance to play against some tough competition south of the border.
The VIBI Mariners are part of the five-team Canadian College Baseball Conference. The other four are from Okanagan College, University of Calgary, Thompson Rivers University, and the Prairie Baseball Academy located in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The CCBC regular season runs from February to May, with each team playing 28 regular season games against CCBC opponents. The playoff tournament begins at the end of May, once the regular season concludes. All five CCBC teams qualify for the playoffs. The tournament is in Lethbridge this year, with the three-time defending champion Prairie Baseball Academy hosting the event.
The VIBI Mariners pride themselves on developing good young baseball players. In 2011, the organization received a huge honour, as VIBI pitcher Adam Paulencu was selected in the MLB entry draft by the San Francisco Giants. Paulencu now plays professional baseball in the Colorado Rockies minor league system. The organization has also sent over 50 players to different NCAA programs from all over the United States.
The Mariners play their home games out of Serauxmen Stadium, at the bottom of the VIU residences, and would love to see students at the games. Admission is free. Please visit vibaseball.ca to follow the team as they wrap up their fall schedule and continue preparation for the spring CCBA season.