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Story by Jennifer Blyth

A number of graduating Victoria Eagle Premier players are enjoying baseball success at colleges in the U.S.

December 11, 2011 – How do you measure success?

For the Victoria Premier Eagles baseball club, one key element is its graduates’ continued success at the next level.

Not only did five of the seven graduating Eagles from the 2011 season secure college scholarships, but all have made the line-up for their school’s baseball team.

“The primary mission of the Eagles baseball program is to develop our players to be ready for the next level of competition,” says Martin Winstanley, Chair of the High Performance Committee, which oversees the Eagles program for the Greater Victoria Baseball Association.

“For most, the next level will be highly-competitive college and university baseball, both in Canada and the U.S. If they are to succeed, they need not only the baseball skills but as well academic readiness, work ethic and mental toughness.”

Graduating from the 2011 Premier Eagles were:

• Daniel Peakman, playing for Colorado’s Trinidad State College, on scholarship
• Luke Hawkins, playing for Vancouver Island University
• Nic Pivetta, playing for New Mexico Junior College, on scholarship
• Colton Lindsay, playing for Tennessee’s Volunteer Community College, on scholarship
• Ryan Adkins, playing for North Dakota’s Jamestown College, on scholarship
• Chase Cuckovich, playing for California’s Riverside Community College, on scholarship
• and Max Newton, playing for B.C.’s Thomson Rivers University.

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Luke Hawkins is now throwing fastballs at Vancouver Island University (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

“We had a group of talented athletes last year, and all got the chance to play everyday. That experience really helped them get ready for college,” says Premier Eagles Manager Gautam Srivastava. “In addition, they also did a lot of work on their own trying to make sure they were prepared to take that next step.”

IMG 1738Colton Lindsay, here pitching in a 2011 game for the Eagles, is now playing for Tennessee’s Volunteer Community College on scholarship (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

The Victoria Eagles are part of the Greater Victoria Baseball Association (GVBA), whose High Performance division oversees the Eagles high-performance program for Bantam and Midget-age players from throughout the region.

As the Eagles program continues to develop, more players are seeing this as the best opportunity to continue their education while pursuing baseball at a higher level.

IMG 3164Victoria’s Chase Cuckovich is now chasing down line drives for California’s Riverside Community College (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

“With our program you are guaranteed to get a chance to play and develop,” Srivastava explains.

“While some Premier League organizations measure success primarily with wins and losses, I think it is important to put the needs of players first and foremost when it comes to college. They challenge that hurdle as individuals, not as a team.”

Infielder Ryan Adkins is on a full scholarship at North Dakota’s Jamestown College (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

Looking ahead, baseball fans can expect to hear plenty more from the Eagles during the 2012 season.

“We have a good balance of older players (Grade 12) and younger players (Grade 10 and 11), including the top three players from the 2011 Bantam Eagles team that won last year’s B.C. title and earned bronze at the National Championship,” Srivastava notes.

“Our older core has been in the BC Premier League for their third year, so we will be looking to them to lead this team. I’m excited about this season for the Senior Eagles and feel we will compete in the League.”

IMG 7578Catcher Daniel Peakman, here about to tag a runner out at home plate in a game last season, is now backstopping for Colorado’s Trinidad State College (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

In addition to its philosophy of player development, the Eagles’ success also comes from the depth of experience of its coaching staff.

With a lengthy baseball resume, Srivastava was a coach with the BC Selects, the 2010 Canada Cup Champions, and guest coach for the 2010 Baseball Canada Futures Camp in Toronto.

He was the Zone 6 Manager for the 2010 BC Summer Games team, Team BC Coach for the 2009 Canada Summer Games, and Manager of the 2008 Baseball Canada Bantam AAA National Championship Team.

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Infielder Max Newton, here turning a double play in a game last season, is now attending B.C.’s Thomson Rivers University (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

Joining Srivastava as manager of the 2012 Eagles Junior Premier team is Bob Mabee, who has been involved in Victoria baseball for more than 50 years.

Mabee was Manager/Head Coach of the 2002 BC Premier Mariners National Championship Team and was a Canadian National Team member himself in 1970. His son, Henry Mabee, currently pitches for the Chicago White Sox AA affiliate Birmingham Barons.

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Nic Pivetta, seen here on Eagles opening day in 2010, is now attending New Mexico Junior College (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).