Opening day is less than two months away and one local baseball program is heading into its second year in a “strong position,” says its general manager.
Bob Foerster, GM for the Cloverdale Rangers High Performance Baseball Program, said despite only going into their second season, the Rangers are looking stronger than ever.
The Cloverdale Rangers teams completed their first season in 2023 and went on to a successful fall ball campaign and an accomplished winter ball training regimen.
“We achieved a lot of success last year,” said Foerster. “We had a lot of momentum going into the first season and we’re only going to build on that this season.”
He said their coaching and training standards have attracted a lot of players and many are excited about what the Rangers are doing both on and off the field.
Foerster noted one of the problems the program is facing is that they don’t really have an indoor facility that can accommodate the Rangers’ elite program players—and doesn’t even include the Cloverdale Spurs (CMBA), of which the Rangers are also a part. Their current facility, which is a small batting cage at Cloverdale Ball Park, can’t accommodate everyone in a single week, so there’s a little bit of a bottleneck in that regard. And that’s just for hitting. They don’t have the space to run any other indoor activities, like the Cloverdale Fury do. The Fury runs their elite program out of the Coverall building on the Fairgrounds—the Cloverdale Softball Training Centre.
For the Rangers to take that next step, Foerster said they’ll need to find an indoor space to use much like the Fury’s.
“Anything would help—even just doubling our footprint right now would help us immensely,” he said. “We’re starting to attract more players and need to upgrade our facilities.”
He said the elite program is now starting to gain some momentum and some recognition amongst not only BC Minor Baseball, but some other associations and organizations as well.
He said part of their early success can be attributed to their coaching staff. They’ve got excellent, well-trained coaches that have it in mind to put the growth of the players as their No. 1 goal. Foerster said they’ve retained their two U18 (Midget) coaches and have added a couple of new coaches at the lower levels in both U15 (Bantam) and U13 (Peewee).
The Cloverdale Rangers Elite program comprises six teams: a College Prep team and AAA team at U18, both AA and AAA teams at U15, and both AA and AAA teams at U13.
All six teams achieved great success in their first season, with five of the six making provincials. Many of the teams were successful in fall ball as well. He noted there were many individual success stories during last season, including a couple of no-hitters.
“I think from a highlight perspective overall, as a program, we competed at every level. And everyone knew Cloverdale was a tough game, win or lose.”
The Rangers also had about seven players that signed to play college ball this year.
He said the biggest problem the Rangers teams faced in their first season was beyond anyone’s control: the weather. Many teams suffered early rainouts and the College Prep team didn’t even compete against Trail this season because all their games were rained out.
For year two, Foerster said he’s looking to do more of the same. He wants to put a quality product on the field again, he wants to generate some buzz about the program in the Cloverdale community, and he wants to make sure the Rangers provide an affordable place to play baseball for elite athletes.
He now wants to focus on landing some sponsorships so the kids can go to some of the bigger tournaments south of the line, in order to showcase their talents in front of scouts.
“The majority of baseball, obviously, is played in the U.S., so we’re going to be doing some more U.S. trips this year,” he said. “In the fall of 2025 we’re looking to introduce a travel ball program for three different age groups.”
He said some of the big showcase tournaments in the states are in the fall and winter, but there are tournaments all year. Several would conflict with Canadian league seasons, but there is opportunity in the off season for kids to play.
“We’re looking for sponsors or companies that have an enthusiasm for baseball and want to see the program in Cloverdale grow,” Foerster explained. “If anyone’s interested, they can go to cloverdalerangers.com to see what the program is all about and what we’re trying to achieve.”
The idea would be to take a trip in November and then again in either February or March.
He said he’s not launching it to compete with some of the other baseball travel teams. He’s launching it to provide an affordable option for Cloverdale families to go to some of these tournaments. And that’s why he says sponsorship is so important. He’ll need that to offset the cost for parents.
As for the future, Foerster said the next thing on his wish list is for Cloverdale to get an enclosed, permanent baseball facility—kind of like what Whalley Little League has. That way Foerster said the entire association would have access to a diamond year round and field improvements won’t be ruined. He said one of their biggest problems for maintaining fields is that passers-by and others who trod across the diamonds end up damaging them.
“We’re one of the biggest associations in B.C. and as Cloverdale grows, we’re going to need a facility,” Foerster explained. “We only have two enclosed stadiums in the city of Surrey for baseball, and that is Whalley Athletic Park, and one in White Rock. Cloverdale is as big as both of those associations and we don’t have an enclosed field.”
Foerster is looking forward to another successful season with the Rangers. He said all six teams will be competitive again and he’d like to see all six make provincials. He said the organization will also be working hard to continue building the name and reputation of the Rangers’ brand.
“I’m also excited to see our teams compete in tournaments and be successful in tournaments,” he added. “Ultimately, we’re hoping this is a banner year for our College Prep team and our Midget AAA team.
“We’ve got guys that have been in that program for three years now that have seen lots of games, lots of competition. They understand what it takes to win—being close last year. And also continuing to build the Bantam side of the program and the Peewees.”