Chemainus’ Matt Simpson, far right, with other Northland College athletes during an orientation session. (Photo submitted)

Chemainus’ Matt Simpson, far right, with other Northland College athletes during an orientation session. (Photo submitted)

Cool transition to college baseball in Wisconsin for Island ballplayer

Chemainus baseball product anxious to get going after last season lost due to COVID

Wisconsin weather compared to B.C. is a stark contrast, otherwise Chemainus baseball product Matt Simpson has settled in well to his new surroundings at Northland College in Ashland, Wis.

“It’s pretty cold,” Simpson conceded. “Usually when I wake up it’s around -25. Throughout the day, it drops down to -20.”

Not exactly baseball weather yet, but it’ll be getting there soon.

Making the move in the first place at the start of the school year was a bit unsettling with COVID complications and precautions. Simpson had considered Houghton College in New York at one time before making Northland his destination of choice.

“We were reluctant to send him with COVID but coach (Jeremy) Snow and the staff there have been very diligent on all the safety procedures they are doing there – on the field and in the dorms,” noted Simpson’s mom Leanne. “Matt is loving it there.”

“It was definitely nerve-racking, mostly excited though when I first got here,” said Simpson. “I met some of my teammates right away and did a good job of settling in and getting comfortable.”

A whole season of baseball was missed last year due to COVID, as the Mid-Island Pirates never got off the ground in the B.C. Premier Baseball League so Simpson is anxious to make up for lost time.

“We were just practicing and doing inter-squad games against ourselves,” he noted.

Related story: Simpson staying sharp for the baseball call

After some contact with Houghton that Simpson didn’t consider too serious, he had conversations with coach Snow about Northland baseball and the academic program offered there.

“It’s a Division 3 school,” Simpson explained. “They can’t give me any athletic money. My scholarship is based on my academics, based on my grades for VIU and high school. There’s a couple of other little bursaries I got through doing interviews with the international admissions people.”

Simpson left Aug. 21 to get ready for the beginning of school in early September.

“I got to campus and it was just freshmen students,” he indicated.

That orientation week was spent doing activities, a tour of the campus and finding out how everything works.

Simpson is taking an Education program and focusing on math. COVID has changed the course load, with semesters split into two sections with two classes in each.

The classroom sizes are also limited. There are just six students in one of his education classes, with 10-15 at a time in math.

The second semester is operating the same way, but they’re “planning on going back to regular format for September, though,” Simpson said.

As for baseball, the main part of the season is just ahead once the weather warms up.

“When I got here in the fall, we were just kind of doing practices and inter-squad games since our season is in the spring,” Simpson explained.

He returned home at the end of November and stayed till early January, with a bit of a break for the winter.

Practices have been indoors since Simpson’s return. He’s looking to be the back-up to a senior catcher and also playing in the outfield.

“Practices have been going good so far,” Simpson said. “I’m excited for the season to get going.”

He’s also been feeling right at home in Ashland, which he said has about half the population of Chemainus.

“It kind of reminds me of being back home,” Simpson observed.

“It’s been great. It’s a very small campus. It kind of reminds me of high school. It’s a tight community where everyone knows each other.

“It’s also a huge environmental school. They’re always doing trips to the skiing resort that’s close by. That’s really cool because I’m really into the outdoors.”

And the outdoors in Ashland is definitely a cool place to be on the temperature scale, too, for Simpson, as he awaits the ‘Play Ball’ call.

BaseballCollegeSports

Just Posted

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m.
Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies in Tuesday crash on West Coast Road

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along Nanaimo Parkway now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo hospital experiencing another COVID-19 outbreak

Three patients tested positive for the virus in NRGH’s high-intensity rehab unit

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read