Briercrest College couldn't have asked for a more ideal candidate to build them a women's softball program.
© submitted photo
Not only is Carlie Pagens a Briercrest alum, but she also got paid to coach softball before she was a teenager.
Pagens will take her passion for softball and put it to good use as she looks to build a strong program in Caronport.
"It is exciting to get an opportunity to start a new program and be a part of helping the sport of softball grow and develop at the collegiate level in Canada — which is something that I have wanted to do since high school," said Pagens.
The New Westminster, B.C. product arrived at Briercrest in 2007 and ended up playing soccer for the Clippers. She played some slo pitch and coached, but since she was going to school full-time and working full-time, it left he with little time for extracurriculars.
Pagens first started coaching when she was 12 when she paid to be an assistant at a night school softball program for kids.
"I don't even know how that happened. I wasn't even very good when they asked me to start to coach," said Pagens.
It wasn't long before she had caught the coaching bug.
"That same year I started training at a softball academy and I was shocked in the difference in coaching and how I was treated and the role those coaches played in my life," she said. "I loved it. I realized softball was more than something I did for fun and could be a huge part of my life. I loved coaching then."
Thanks to having British roots, Pagens got a rare opportunity to play internationally. She represented Great Britain at a youth tournament in Germany and at the 2006 Junior World Championships in Florida.
"A girl who trained at my academy had played with them a year earlier. She talked to them and they invited me to come tryout and play at a tournament in Germany," said Pagens. "I told my parents at 16 that I wanted to go to Germany to play in a tournament and somehow they let me."
An injury meant she missed another opportunity to play for Great Britain and once their dreams of qualifying for the Olympic were dashed, she decided to end her international softball adventure.
"I played with them as long as softball was in the Olympics," said Pagens who has has lived in Moose Jaw for four years and works with Five Hills Health Region as a mental health and addictions counsellor. "It's a huge commitment."
Building a collegiate softball program from scratch is going to be a huge commitment, but Pagens is excited about the challenge.
Briercrest will play in the Western Collegiate Softball Association (WCSA). The league is made up of primarily CIS schools like Regina, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Lethbridge and Mount Royal. SAIT is the only other Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference school that also fields a team.
"My hope is to put a team together that can absolutely compete at that level," said Pagens.
Because Pagens was hired after the school year ended, she isn't sure what she has for prospective talent amongst current students, but she is expecting to need to work hard to recruit the bulk of her team. While Briercrest is easily the smallest school that competes in the league, Pagens is confident they will be able to draw talent.
"There aren't a lot of opportunities to play softball in Canada," said Pagens. "We're the only Christian college or university offering a softball program."
She has been busy emailing contacts and will hit the road to take in some tournaments once the season is in full swing. She is focusing her efforts on Ontario and the western provinces.
"My contacts are mostly in B.C., so I'm focusing on B.C. and Alberta, but also locally as well. Manitoba has a high school league for softball, so that really helps. Ontario has some great ball too," she said.
The school is working on constructing a new softball diamond for the program. That will be used for practices for the time being.
The WCSA's league schedule is made of tournaments hosted by the league teams on weekends. The Clippers are expecting to host their weekend in Moose Jaw.
The season will start Labour Day weekend and conclude the first weekend in October.
The Canadian Collegiate Softball Championship will be hosted by the Univ. of Calgary from Oct. 10-13.