Vernon baseball players with the Kelowna-based Okanagan Athletics include (from left): Jaden Parsons, Coltin Shaper-Kotter, Carter Morris, Jared Leroux, Ryan Gamage, Chase Batchelor and Eric Foufoulas. The seven play in B.C.’s highest level of minor baseball, the Premier Baseball League. Four of the players – Parsons, Shaper-Kotter, Morris and Batchelor – will play next fall at U.S. colleges. (Photo - submitted)

Vernon baseball players land U.S. deals, help teammate battle cancer

Four Vernon players on Okanagan Athletics heading south to play ball at college

Most kids in B.C.’s Premier Baseball League (PBL) dream of carrying on and playing college ball, or being drafted by Major League Baseball, and they work and fight hard to achieve that goal.

That dream has moved closer for a handful of Vernon players.

READ ALSO FROM 2017: Blue Jays invite Morris

Jaden Parsons, Coltin Shaper-Kotter, Carter Morris, Jared Leroux, Ryan Gamage, Chase Batchelor and Eric Foufoulas are all members of the Kelowna-based Okanagan Athletics, a team made up of players from Vernon, Kelowna, Kamloops, Rutland and West Kelowna, and play in the PBL, the province’s highest level of baseball.

The season runs April to August.

READ ALSO FROM 2016: Vernon boys to boost Athletics

Four of the Vernon seven – Parsons, Shaper-Kotter, Morris and Batchelor – will play baseball and go to school south of the border come fall.

Parsons will attend Cloud County Community College in Kansas; Shaper-Kotter is off to East Central University in Oklahoma; and Morris will go to California to attend Sacramento State University. Those three have baseball scholarships. Batchelor has an academic scholarship and will play ball at the University of Tampa in Florida.

Leroux and Gamache are uncommitted about post-season opportunities while Foufoulas will be entering Grade 12 at Vernon Secondary School.

Teammate Aiden Borne of Kelowna has a different dream.

Borne has been diagnosed with cancer – anaplastic large T cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s the second time he has faced a cancer battle. Three years ago, Borne was diagnosed and beat Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

According to team leaders Parsons, Schaper-Kotter and Adam Sarafinchin, Borne is a positive, gracious and kind young man, one who is confident that he will again win the difficult and painful fight that lies ahead for him in the coming months.

“He never lost his smile or his calm and steady temperament in 2016 when going through treatment and he doesn’t plan to alter his game plan now,” said Parsons. “Aiden is convinced that this time, he will knock cancer out of the park.”

Said Shaper-Kotter: “Aiden is great teammate and friend, we will miss him on the field, but we will be with him every step of the way. We all know he will get our biggest win of the year and be back with us again soon.”

Athletics head coach Evan Bailey is extremely proud of his players.

“Aiden is a tough and dedicated kid, but he needs our support. Our kids have always been there for him, giving their encouragement and motivation,” he said. “That is the true definition of being a team.”

If you or your business would like to help support the Borne Family, donations can be made by cheques payable to Okanagan Athletics Baseball and put “Borne” on the memo line, mail to 57 Forest Edge Drive Kelowna, BC V1V 3G3.

E-transfer can also sent to aidenborneathletics@gmail.com and put “Homerun” as the security answer. The Athletics will also be playing a 100-inning game fundraising event on June 12 with 100 per cent of all donations going to the family.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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