Lethbridge’s Prairie Baseball Academy head coach Todd Hubka says his field at Lloyd Nolan Yard has never been in better shape.
“Well, no one’s been on it hardly this year,” he said with a laugh on Monday.
The park has been nearly untouched since March when COVID-19 put a halt to the Canadian College Baseball Conference season.
While the time without baseball has allowed for some upgrades — including a new scoreboard and a freshly painted outfield fence — Hubka said he’s ready to see his athletes back out on the field.
The PBA program is set to begin its 26th year on Aug. 30, a week earlier than players usually arrive. Both the varsity and junior varsity players will be under pressure like never before, as the onus will be on them to be diligent and stay healthy together, Hubka said.
“That’s why we’re showing up a little early,” Hubka said.
“We’re going to make sure that these policies are all put in place where there’s sanitizing everything and trying to just stay within our group. I realize that’s tough when you’re dealing with 50 to 60 some-odd kids, but there’s going to be a lot put on them to make this year work.”
The program has already ordered masks as part of players’ clothing packages.
The upcoming year still holds a lot of unknowns.
Hubka said he has plans in place to adapt the PBA season depending on what COVID-19 restrictions will allow.
“I have two different schedules planned for the varsity team,” he said.
“The first is the regular start-up where we head to Las Vegas for 10 days, and in March, we’re down in Oregon and Washington and then into our league. If that doesn’t work this year, we’ll probably go out to Vancouver in February and hopefully play UBC and Douglas College and some other teams out there.”
For now, the fall will include plenty of internal competition.
“Our intrasquad games are pretty entertaining, and as we go into September and October, we get into our world series where we split the teams as evenly as we can into three or four teams and play a tournament to decide the PBA fall world series,” Hubka said.
PBA will have more returning players than expected for the upcoming year, as those who missed out on a full graduating season in the spring have all been invited back.