BT named new top Dawg
Baseball: Brett Thomas returning to manage college team
Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 06:00 am
The Professor is back to lead a group of college students at Seaman Stadium this summer.
Former Dawgs catcher Brett Thomas will manage the Okotoks Dawgs for the 2014 Western Major Baseball League the team announced last week. He replaces AJ Fystro, who is now the headman of the Dawgs Baseball Academy
“I talked to AJ about it when I was up there in September for the high school showcase,” Thomas said in an interview from San Mateo, California. “John (executive director John Ircandia) then got hold of me and it just sort of came from there.”
Thomas won three WMBL titles with the Dawgs during his three years as a player in Okotoks from 2007 to 09. He was named the Dawgs MVP in 2009. He was a bench coach for the 2010 Dawgs under head coach Dave Robb.
Thomas then coached the Midget Black Dawgs to the national championship game in 2011 and 2012, winning the title in his final year.
Thomas has been an assistant coach with the College of San Mateo since the fall of 2012.
He earned the nickname “The Professor” from executive director John Ircandia for his calling of the game behind the plate and for being such a good student of the game.
He comes highly recommended from his former Dawgs manager Fystro.
Fystro was the manager for the 2008 and 2009 Dawgs and saw first-hand the Cal-Berkeley grad’s knowledge of the summer game.
“Coming from where he did and the coaching he received at Cal, he was very smart and knew how to manage the game very well,” Fystro said.
“He was like another coach on the field. I never had to step in to call pitches with Brett behind the plate.”
Thomas said his six years with the Dawgs as both a player and a coach led to landing his job at San Mateo, and now his new summer job.
“It is nice to know what is expected up there,” Thomas said. “Having seen guys like AJ and Dave (Robb) coach in Okotoks and be very successful, obviously, I learned a lot from those guys from every aspect of coaching,
“At San Mateo, I still draw from what I learned from them. Dave was one of the biggest influences on me.”
Thomas will continue his job at San Mateo when the Dawgs’ season ends, hopefully in late August.
His connections in California will allow Thomas to recruit top players to Okotoks.
Recruiting is part of his duties at the northern California junior college.
“I have connections all over,” Thomas said. “So I will be tapping those connections to get the best guys up there (Okotoks), but the process has already been going… They (the Dawgs) have already been doing an outstanding job up there, I just have to help get the final pieces.”
Thomas knows what is expected in Okotoks, a community he calls his “second home”.
Those expectations are providing quality on the field and the players representing the Dawgs well off the field.
A snap in the Dawgs’ four-year drought without a WMBL championship would be nice too.
“That is what is expected in that town, that’s what is expected from our players,” Thomas said. “I love that. That is one of the things I like, going to place where winning is expected.
You have to get enough out of these guys to win a championship, not just enough to get by or win a division.
“I am very poor at losing, and I don’t want to be in a place where losing is acceptable. I have so much pride for Okotoks and wearing that jersey. I look forward to continuing that tradition of competing to win.”
The Dawgs’ annual banquet is this Saturday night at the Foothills Centennial Centre. The evening will include the induction of the first members of the Dawgs Hall of Fame. As well the 2013 players’ award will be handed out.
The guest speaker is former New York Yankee and Toronto Blue Jay infielder Homer Bush, who won a World Series wearing the Big Apple’s pinstripes in 1998. For more information about the Dawgs and the banquet go to www.dawgsbaseball.ca or call the Dawgs office at 403-262-DAWG (3294).