Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN

VICTORIA, B.C. (ISN) – Victoria’s entry into the West Coast Baseball League (WCL) took a giant step today toward preparing for their opening day in June of 2013 by announcing that Holly Jones, a former Assistant GM with the WCL Corvallis Knights, will serve as the team’s General Manager.

Team Co-Owner John McLean was on hand at Royal Athletic Park today to introduce Jones to the media and note that she will lead the business and marketing efforts of the newest West Coast League franchise in preparations for Opening Day in June 2013 at Royal Athletic Park.

“In looking for a GM for our club, it was important for us to have a person who had proven experience in sports management, but also in sports sales and marketing, operations and most importantly, building community partnerships and relationships” noted McLean.  “Holly brings that successful mix of sports marketing skills and a strong knowledge of the WCL to help launch our team in the Victoria marketplace.  She has a passion for the game and tremendous experience with some of the top names in marketing.”

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Holly Jones, new General Manager of Victoria’s West Coast League baseball team, addresses the media Tuesday at Royal Athletic Park (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Jones comes to Victoria from New York City where she held marketing positions with JetBlue Airways, Creative Artists Agency and the National Basketball Association. Prior to her time in New York, she was Assistant General Manager of one of the most successful WCL franchises, the Corvallis Knights. Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Business Administration from the University of Oregon and is one of two female general managers named during the past week to head WCL teams, and one of a growing number of female North American baseball executives.

“I am extrmely excited to be back here on the west coast and to be back here in the West Coast League,” noted Jones.  “The three years I spent with Corvallis were three of the most influential and important years in my life and I am happy to be back.”

“I am eager to build a successful, inspiring organization here in Victoria and to help build an organization we can all be proud of” added Jones.  “Our goal is not to simply bring baseball to Victoria, but to build a team with the community that everyone on Vancouver Island can also be proud of.  I am excited to work with owners who are committed to the game and to the community, and I can’t wait to get started.”

In her statements today, Jones also unveiled the team’s website and the Name The Team promotion. Victoria baseball fans are encouraged to visit the website and help name the new team. The first 250 people to suggest a name will receive a pair of tickets to an upcoming regular season game.

Jones did mention that a number of interesting names had already come in for consideration, but would not divulge any name favourites lest she bias the contest. “All I’ll say is that there have been a couple that play on the double “V” aspect, as well as some names a bit more closely related to Victoria or Canada and its history and culture.”  She also mentioned that nothing has yet been decided on team colours, mainly because that may ultimately play off what the team name and logo is and how that all ties into the web, merchandising and other aspects of the team.

Jones and McLean also noted that the Head Coach of the Victoria franchise will be announced in the coming weeks and that once that happens, the player recruiting process can begin in earnest.   “The key recruiting season at the colleges begins in September” noted Jones, “so it will be important for us to have a field manager locked up soon and have the majority of our roster for next season locked up in the next six to eight weeks or so.”

McLean was also optimistic about having a field manager on board soon noting’ “We have interviewed a number of candidates and had a few up here to look at the facility and meet with the City to talk about the plans for the infield and field dimensions. We are close to finalizing the decision and we should be back here in a week or two to let you know.”  

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Team Co-Owner John McLean was on hand Tuesday to introduce Jones to the media as well as provide an update on the search for the team’s first field manager (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

When asked if it would be a recognizable name from the majors, McLean responded, “Well I guess that depends on how extensive your knowledge of the majors is!  I can tell you that it is not a player who is recently retired, nor is it a coach presently coaching in the majors or anything like that.  And I can tell you that a key criteria for the job was a person who has very strong ties into the college and university systems, someone who can pick up a phone and give the University of Washington, or UCLA or University of Kentucky a call to ask for players, and in turn having the coaches at those schools be comfortable in sending their players to play for the summer for that coach.”

As to possible players that the team may already have their eye on, Jones would not name specifics, but did note that, “there are definitely some players on the radar and we would definitely like to find some British Columbia based players if at all possible to really make that community connection.  I should point out though that our field manager will be making the bulk of the on-field decisions regarding players, but I will help support the operational side and support the manager as needed in the process.”

The inaugural season of WCL baseball in Victoria begins at Royal Athletic Park during the first week of June 2013 and runs through mid-August, with 27 home games and 27 away games. Victoria Baseball Club games will offer affordable fun for the entire family with average ticket prices expected to be under $10. Season and Game Day ticket information will be announced in the coming months.

About the West Coast League

The West Coast League features a competitive level of play and recruits players from high-calibre baseball programs at colleges and universities across North America. With the additions of Victoria and Medford, Oregon the League will have 11 teams in play for the 2013 season.