After making academy history a homegrown Dawg is taking his talents stateside.
Okotoks Dawgs Academy infielder Connor Crowson has found his next home on the diamond, committing to Louisiana’s Bossier Parish Community College Cavaliers for 2021.
“I started talking to Bossier after my first time going to T12,” Crowson said. “They came in (the Duvernay Fieldhouse) to see a few of our guys hit live before the new year and I just kept talking to them.
“I really love Louisiana, it’s a great place, I went there (for a tournament) my Grade 11 year and liked the weather there and I’m excited to be there.”
The Cavaliers, located in Bossier City in the Shreveport region of Louisiana, compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“It’s a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to continue playing baseball after high school,” he said. “It’s kind of an eye opener and I’ve got to keep working hard to get onto the next level.”
Crowson knows a great deal about advancing to the next level.
One of the original members of the Dawgs Peewee (now 13U) team in 2014, the Okotokian is the first player to suit up for all six teams in the academy.
“I was on the very first Peewee team,” Crowson said. “It was a very big deal wearing the Dawgs (jersey) when I was in Peewee. I kind of felt like I was a celebrity. It’s a great program, great development and great move for me starting off there.”
Through his years with the academy, Crowson earned two provincial championships, in second year Peewee and second year Bantam, competed at nationals and was selected to compete in the Toronto Blue Jays’ T12 tournament. Other highlights included the stateside tournament tour last year which saw the Dawgs take on Div. I schools Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga, Seattle University and Cal State Bakersfield.
Crowson is one of 19 players on the Dawgs 18U Black team with a collegiate commitment to his name, a group that includes a number of NCAA Div. I scholarships.
“This year and what it was last year, the Black team I feel we’re really well connected,” said Crowson, a 2020 graduate of Foothills Composite. “We have a bunch of great guys, we all push each other because we want to be the best in Canada and I believe if we all keep working we will be the best in Canada.”
The infielder, who plays primarily at the hot corner and at first base, credited the long list of academy coaches that have helped him along the way from Allen Cox, Val Helldobler, Aaron Ethier to Jeff Duda and Tyler Hollick.
“The whole coaching staff has really been there for me,” Crowson said. “Val works with the infielders, Val really loves to push us, he believes in us a lot, he pushes us to the limit and makes us better.
“Last year we had a really good winter for infield, our whole team really stepped it up and we’ve got a bunch of great infielders now. Val has put in the work and given us drills every day.”
Though the 2020-21 season has looked a little different, the Dawgs Academy have been able to make use of their facility and safe return to practice and were one of the first sports teams in the province to re-open from the original spring lockdown.
Only since the new restrictions have been put in place in November have the academy athletes been sidelined from training.
“The coaches put together a plan where we practice and do lifts and just try and stay in shape until the restrictions are lifted and we can get back at it and we can start getting to playing tournaments and games,” Crowson said.
Going forward, Crowson along with Justin Breen, a 2020 graduate, will be the first Okotoks alumni to play for the Cavaliers.
“They have a young coaching staff that really wants to win,” said Crowson, who plans to study business at Bossier Parish. “They’ve got a great team down there and me and Justin Breen are heading down next August and I’m excited to be there with him.”