Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 30, No.1

September 15, 2005


Stingers baseball team has these players hooked

Coach Howard Schwartz has kept 10-year-old team going strong

By Barbara Black

Paul St. Jacques

Shortstop Paul St. Jacques, a player in third year, at Sunday’s game against McGill. Centraide committee members turned out in support of the team.

Concordia’s baseball team has been playing for love of the game for 10 years. Now they’re becoming known as a contender.

Coach Howard Schwartz explained, “Locally, elite athletes all know about our league, which has two other divisions besides ours. We get some exposure within the university. We’re not a varsity team, but [Athletics Director] Katie Sheahan treats us like one.”

The season started Sept. 10 in Ottawa, and will continue for 15 more games against McGill, John Abbott College, Carleton and University of Ottawa. Playoffs begin Oct. 8.

Doug Noftall has been with the team for nine of its 10 years, the first four as a player and the last five as an assistant coach. Now president of Skyline Montreal Exhibits, he reminisced in an email.

“As a player, I spent many weeknights and weekends dedicated to the team. We had practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights, then played four games on Saturday and Sunday. I also managed to work 20 to 30 hours per week and take four courses — all this without owning a car and paying $400 per year to play.”

The money ran out from time to time. “When we needed buses for road trips, cash calls were made [to the players].

“I had had four memorable years playing baseball. While we never won and I always felt cheated by the umpiring, playing Concordia baseball was about being a Stinger, having fun, competing hard and developing friendships.”

When Noftall graduated, he volunteered to help the coach, whom he credits with saving the faltering project. Now the team has better equipment, new uniforms and stronger financial support.

“Howard Schwartz raised awareness dramatically,” Noftall said. “With the support of the school, the players can focus on baseball as opposed to how they’re going to get to the next game. Talent levels have risen dramatically. I predict that we will be a force to be reckoned with on the national level.”

Paul St. Jacques

Concordia’s short baseball season attracts players who just love the game. Above, the Stingers and McGill played last Sunday in TMR.

Ahren Sternberg is another Con U baseball alumnus. He was with the team for three years, from 1996 to 1999, and calls it a highlight of his time at Concordia.

“The games were great,” he recalled, “but I couldn’t tell you the scores or even outcomes to a lot of them. What I do remember are the weekday practices where only half the team would show because of night classes.

“I remember the road trips throughout Quebec and Ontario, and the unique bunch of guys we had. I remember Howie and his family, how he and they cared about us.

“Howie would invite us for team dinners and poker nights, and it was a blast. His kids were our bat and ball boys but they were also like our little brothers. Playing on that baseball team meant the world to me.”

Now a teacher in Toronto, Sternberg said Schwartz “creates an environment that allows you to let your love not only for baseball but for life shine through.”

Montreal is still a good baseball town, Sternberg added. “There is a great men’s city league and lots of junior baseball. It’s too bad there isn’t more money available to support it, though.”

Paul Saint-Jacques, a student in the John Molson School of Business who plays shortstop, agreed.

“Baseball in this city is actually quite popular — there are many competitive leagues for all ages. We have been very fortunate to gain a lot of support from the Athletics Department.

Saint-Jacques is going into his third year with the team. “I am extremely optimistic and probably more excited than previous years. Most of last year’s team is returning, with the addition of some key players.

“This team means a lot to me. Not many students know about it. That’s additional motivation to win the national championship!”