Abruptly awoken Wolves are emerging from their den, claws out in defence of their leader and the program he reared.
Former TRU WolfPack baseball player Ryan Friedrich spoke to KTW on behalf of a group of alumni that is disturbed to hear the team may be jeopardized by a funding cut.
Head coach Ray Chadwick said losing $30,000 annually from TRU has potential to cull the WolfPack, noting the Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society, which runs the club team at arm’s length from the university, is frustrated with the institution.
“This is a family thing,” said Friedrich, who was alarmed when reading a KTW story on the matter online on Tuesday night. “Ray has preached that from Day 1. Knowing they may take something away from us, it’s hard.
“The reason I reached out is so some of the alumni guys had a voice to say what he and the program have done for us. It’s quite a bit. I wouldn’t have stayed around otherwise. My kid was born here.”
Friedrich, a 33-year-old Trail product who attended TRU from 2005 to 2009, said he is one of many alumni who moved to Kamloops for baseball and stayed here after university.
“I definitely wouldn’t be here without the program,” said Friedrich, a rehab assistant at Royal Inland Hospital. “I probably would have been in Trail doing something, maybe working at COMINCO.”
Friedrich admits he does not know the whole story behind the projected funding cut, with changes expected to come after the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
One source told KTW the Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society has known about the impending funding changes since prior to former athletic director Ken Olynyk’s departure in January of 2018.
“I wish a lot of us knew,” Friedrich said. “If they really did know two years ago, I wish a lot of us knew.”
Chadwick raved about Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society president Jeff Vanjoff and what he’s done for the program. Vanjoff is declining comment until the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference Championship wraps up on Sunday.
One source told KTW there may still be TRU money available to the program going forward.
The per-semester fee to play for TRU’s baseball team is $2,200, money paid to the club to help run the program.
“I don’t understand the whole money end of what TRU does, but I do understand these players come here, they do pay money to play and that extra bit of money does help to fund the team,” Friedrich said.
“Cutting that [$30,000] at all or in total does put a damper on not only TRU baseball, but Sun Devils’ baseball in the summer, which is another thing I’m involved in. If we lose TRU baseball, we will lose Sun Devils’ baseball.”
The Kamloops Sun Devils, the squad that plays annually in the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament, is a summer men’s team fed by the WolfPack.
Both organizations contribute to the Kamloops Minor Baseball Association, putting on clinics and helping out in other ways.
“We have a lot of guys that went on to do a lot of great things from TRU baseball,” Friedrich said. “Some played minor league baseball, some are lawyers and some are going to be doctors.
“They didn’t just come here to play baseball. They also came to go to school. A lot of that money they paid to go to school helps TRU, as well.”
“Say there are 30 kids that take three classes, with what tuition costs these days, it would be nice if they [TRU] could find that little bit of money.”
Friedrich said alumni are willing to go to bat for Chadwick and the program.
“Ray probably doesn’t want to leave this town,” Friedrich said. “He’s good at what he does.
“A lot of the guys have said we’ll find a way to not let the program fold. We’ll see what we can get from sponsors.
“Hopefully, it turns out for the best.”