New Huskies coach a ‘steal’ for baseball team

Tom Valcke says Huskies will play aggressive, hustling style of baseball

In his first meeting with the team on Tuesday night, new Huskies baseball coach Tom Valcke wanted to go over his coaching philosophy with his new players. He also made a point of discussing what happened during the squad’s recent 1-19 season, seeing what the players were willing to own about their tough 2016 campaign.

“You know what they say, those that don’t know history tend to repeat it,” said Valcke. “I don’t think last season was something that anybody wants to see repeated.”

On Monday, George Brown athletics announced Valcke as the new Huskies baseball coach, replacing former coach Mark Cotgrave, whose contract George Brown College (GBC) declined to renew.

In Valcke, the Huskies have a well-established baseball man with experience training and coaching ballplayers in Canada and internationally.

Melanie Gerin-Lajoie, George Brown’s manager of athletics and recreation, said that landing Valcke was a “steal” for the college, and called his reputation a “selling feature” for the team.

“He’s someone that I think these gentlemen are going to want to come and play hard for, and buy into the culture of.”

Valcke’s resume touts over 25 years of baseball experience, including coaching with team Canada’s national baseball team, establishing the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau in Canada, and being the head coach and general manager of the International Canadian Academy of Sports Excellence, a training program for players that has seen 14 graduates land post-secondary scholarships to play baseball.

In the first team meeting with the new coach, Huskies outfielder Curtis Cobean noticed an immediate difference in how Valcke laid out his expectations for the team.

“His vision for the GBC team moving forward was very clear and to the point and he let everyone know what is expected of us and what we can expect of him.” said Cobean. “And that is something we did not have in my previous two years as much.”

Cobean added that Valcke’s presence in the meeting, as well as his coaching experience and baseball knowledge had the team’s attention.

Valcke is inheriting a Huskies team that has struggled to win, going an abysmal 6-52 in the last three seasons. The incoming coach’s strategy to improve the team is to strengthen the positions in the middle of the field, starting with pitching and catching, then getting better at second base and in centre field.

As Valcke looks to field a more solid centre, he is anticipating a pesky style of ball, where the Huskies will look to stay competitive into the late innings of the game. If the game is close in the final two innings, according to Valcke anything can happen, including wins.

“We’re going to play a brand of baseball that involves a lot of aggressive play, a lot of hustle, we’re going to chase and scrap and if we don’t have the size and strength that our opponents do then we’re going to have to other things to win ball games.”

Gerin-Lajoie said that Valcke can offer stability through a multi-year effort to turn the program around.

“It’s not going to be a one-year turnaround, and he’s not coming in saying we’re going to win 10 games next year,” Gerin-Lajoie said. “He’s got a three to five year outlook in place of developing the program.”

Securing Valcke as the coach, is one part of Gerin-Lajoie’s work at moving the Huskies baseball team in the right direction. She’s also worked behind the scenes to ensure that Huskies baseball, and all varsity sports across the college, have more money to offer student-athletes in scholarships.

“(Student-athletes) obviously put a lot of time and resources into being an athlete representing the college,” Gerin-Lajoie said. “Sometimes they don’t have time for a part-time job or something else, so it’s the least we can do is to help put them in a position to succeed both in the classroom and the court by relieving some of that pressure.”

While adding more funding for scholarships will likely help interest more players in coming to and staying with the Huskies, Valcke is also looking at current George Brown students to step up and try out for the team. The new coach said he is looking to raise the profile of the team between now and the August tryouts.

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New Huskies coach a ‘steal’ for baseball team