After years of coaching competitive baseball, Mike Krykewich and Guy Yerama decided it was time that a Manitoban university had a men’s baseball team.
The two drew up a proposal and approached the athletics department at the University of Manitoba. However, the U of M declined.
Undaunted, Krykewich and Yerama took their proposal to the heart of downtown - the University of Winnipeg.
Doran Reid, Wesmen athletic director, said he loved the prospect of having a baseball team at the U of W.
“Adding baseball to the Wesmen family of teams makes a lot of sense,” he said. “It is an exciting partnership with the Goldeyes, Baseball Manitoba, the baseball community and our two coaches, Guy and Mike.”
Because Krykewich and Yerama approached the U of W with the proposal for the program, and it was not initiated by the U of W, it was determined that the baseball team would be self-funded, but still receive administrative support from the athletic department.
Now, in the fall of 2011, Krykewich and Yerama have the Wesmen men’s baseball team running in full swing. Their first major fundraiser was held in late September, and received much media attention.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, they hosted an extensive fundraising event, from which they raised more than $13,000.
The Wesmen Baseball Marathon Game was a 100-inning event held at Shaw Park, home of the Goldeyes. Money was raised through pledges from the community, and there was no fee for individuals to attend the event. Those who donated became a part of the Wesmen Baseball Booster program, and also received a tax receipt.
Facility events co-ordinator Tim Volk thinks it’s important that the event involved the community.
“It was another community-based Wesmen initiative that shows we’re growing the university in the right direction,” he said.
Not only did it allow the Wesmen athletes, faculty and staff to interact with the community, it also provided an opportunity for the Wesmen to build their relationship with Winnipeg’s only professional baseball team.
Unlike other Wesmen sports, the baseball players do not receive athletic scholarships from the U of W. Instead, the baseball program is responsible for raising money to run their program and fund their athletes. This was one of the main drives for the fundraiser last month.
Associate athletic director Tom Nicholson said the efforts of Krykewich, Yerama and their team made towards organizing the event paid off.
“It was a huge success,” Nicholson said. “They did a great job of going out there into the community, and getting people excited about the program. It’s pretty amazing.”
Published in Volume 66, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 19, 2011)