Williams Lake baseball player Tanner Gainer, 23, was recently awarded the Thompson Rivers University Scholar Athlete Award for 2011/12.
Gainer, a member of the TRU Wolpack baseball team, was honoured Oct. 2 at a banquet in Kamloops by TRU president Alan Shaver.
“The award I was presented with was for being an Academic All Canadian,” he said. “It’s given to any athlete who maintains an average grade point average of 3.5 or higher for the entire academic school year.”
Gainer joined the TRU Wolpack baseball club in September of 2007 before continuing on to play out his entire eligibility with TRU, completing five seasons with the team.
“I am now a member of the TRU alumni team that still holds close ties with the players and we still play our fellow Wolfpack team every Wednesday night,” he said.
Gainer’s family moved to Williams Lake when he was four where he grew up playing baseball and hockey.
“I first moved to Kamloops when I was 16 years old to play for the Kamloops Riverdogs,” he said. “[It] was in the spring/summer of grades 11 and 12 where I was a member of the Riverdogs baseball team and was named captain for the Riverdogs in my senior year.
“I also played rep hockey for Williams Lake until I graduated high school, which is why I was only in Kamloops for the spring/summer of grade 11 and 12.”
Gainer played second base for the Riverdogs, before being migrated by TRU head coach Ray Chadwick to third base for his university playing career.
He added he grew up learning the sport in Williams Lake, and hopes in the future there’s an opportunity for more kids locally to experience it.
“I learned at an early age how to play baseball,” he said. “My father and I would play in the back yard when I was growing up. Williams Lake used to have a decent program throughout my youth and I was able to play at home competitively until about age 12.
“After that the program in Williams Lake was barely afloat and I was forced to venture outside of Williams Lake in order to continue to play.”
He said it’s unfortunate the program in Williams Lake wasn’t popular enough to continue.
“It’s upsetting for me to hear Williams Lake’s baseball program has fizzled out,” he said.
“It’s truly important for children to grow up in a competitive and social setting and I believe Williams Lake should bring back a competitive season that will allow children to grow up and develop — not only with motor development — but also because it gives them a chance to be a part of something.
“It’ll give them an opportunity to get outside, be active, become a part of something special and, most importantly, keep them out of trouble.”