After months of questioning, if we’ll be seeing one of TRU’s own join the Kamloops Northpaws, answers came with the signing announcement of the first to represent TRU on Feb. 8.
In September of 2020, news came out concerning a Kamloops franchise that would join the West Coast League, a group of teams in the North West that was primarily made up of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division one and two athletes from the United States.
The Kamloops Northpaws were formed with plans to begin their first season this upcoming June. They did not waste any time and since their inception has signed over 18 players with most of them coming from California, Arizona, and Vancouver.
Questions circulated whether any Wolfpack players would play a part in the team were raised due to the higher level of play that the summer league brings compared to the Wolfpack season. Those concerns were wiped away on Feb. 8 after a press release stated that Liam Rihela from the TRU Wolfpack baseball team would be the first player representing the school to sign for the Northpaws.
“It’s kind of cool to be the first player to sign. I think it’s all going to hit me as the summer approaches, but yes I’m definitely excited for the opportunity and to be able to represent the Wolfpack,” Rihela stated. “It wasn’t until the middle of December when the Coach reached out to me. I think it was probably a combination of some of the coaches in Kamloops who were involved in the early processes and the team wanted to incorporate local players.”
Rihela signing is important as it could represent a potential gateway for other Wolfpack players to be seen at the next level.
The West Coast League is host to top-level talent and therefore brings in many scouts from semi-pro and pro ball clubs. If Rihela is successful, it could potentially lead to not only a pro contract but could create a pipeline for more Wolfpack players to get opportunities to play in the league.
“I definitely think there will be more opportunities in the future for Wolfpack players to play for the Northpaws,” the infielder announced. “Personally, I just want to contribute to the success of the team in whatever way possible. I know there is a lot of talented young players and coaches coming up from the American schools.”
Keep an eye out for Rihela as he continues to train with the Wolfpack who are preparing to go outside for games scheduled in Spring. Rihela will use this time as preparation for his pre-season with the Northpaws that is likely to start around May.
Stay tuned for more information on upcoming games.