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Dawgs Academy going digital in age of social distancing

Baseball: Okotoks live-streaming training sessions as players stay sharp amid COVID-19 pandemic
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The Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy is taking its training digital with live-streamed training sessions for players to stay sharp amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Remy Greer/Western Wheel)

One of the top baseball academies in the country is adapting to sports in the age of COVID-19.

The Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy is not letting social distancing get in the way of training as it has launched online practices for its athletes to take part in at home to keep the elite athletes sharp amid the pandemic.

“We have essentially transitioned our academy online by creating a program that is designed for our players to be able to do at home using household objects such as cans of soup, balled up pairs of socks or even a t-shirt,” said Dawgs Academy general manager Tyler Hollick. “Many of the guys have set up nets in their garage or basement to hit or do other training but these drills are designed for everyone to be able to complete, regardless of resources available.

“They can still get some development that they would be regularly getting at the academy on a daily basis.”

Hollick said they’ve created programs for throwing, pitching, hitting, infield, catching, plyometrics, mobility and conditioning.

“We stream it live via Instagram and have the all players login at the same time to complete the workout emulating the coaches on screen,” Hollick added. “We will continue to come up with creative ways to keep our players engaged such as relevant baseball reading material, practicing of mindfulness through meditation/visualization, competitions and regular check-ups on our players via phone call or text to see how they are doing.”

On March 16, the Dawgs Academy announced all team facilities – including Seaman Stadium, Duvernay Fieldhouse and Tourmaline Field and all amenities within those areas - would be closed until April 2.

That included the postponement of any baseball activities including practices, meetings, workouts or any team events. The Dawgs Academy boasts six elite teams from the 13U to 18U range.

The Dawgs Academy, which travels  extensively for tournaments both north and south of the border during a normal season, also announced it would not be participating in the Best of the West tournaments and Kelowna Invitational, both scheduled for April in British Columbia.

However, Hollick noted there still remains a lot for the academy to look forward to in 2020, including the summer collegiate team defending its WCBL championship, hosting the Canadian 15U Championships in August along with a productive academy season.

Hollick noted the coaching staff remains in constant contact with collegiate coaches with no intention of slowing down the Dawgs’ 100 per cent graduation rate since the Academy started in 2009. In the last three graduating classes, Dawgs players have earned approximately $1.3 million in academic and athletic scholarship money.

“This situation is unprecedented and difficult for everyone across the world. We didn’t want to allow this to be an excuse for our players to not be able to develop and train for the game they love while they are self isolating in their homes,” Hollick said. “There has been a few phrases being floated around from our academy players such as ‘be elite and ‘no days off’. I think it really speaks to the level of dedication of the Dawgs players, parents, coaching staff and the entire organization to continue to get better during these very difficult times.

“All I can say at this point is I am unbelievably proud of everyone involved for staying positive and continuing to push the needle forward for their individual development. It really speaks to the culture of our players and the organization.”

For more information go to dawgsacademy.ca



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Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact rgreer@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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