Nate Doleman plays short stop and second base for the Ellsworth Community College Panthers in Iowa Falls, Iowa. Photo supplied

Comox Valley ball player eyes NCAA level

Nate Doleman is an infielder on a college team in Iowa

Nathan Doleman and his teammates in Iowa live by the saying, ‘Become one per cent better each day.’

Doleman is a Courtenay-raised baseball player who attends Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls. The 19-year-old short stop/second baseman is entering his sophomore year with the Division 2 Panthers, who compete in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference, and the National Junior College Athletic Association.

In 38 games last season, Doleman compiled a .279 batting average, with an rbi of 16 and two home runs.

He feels his team struggled last season, especially in non-conference play where they faced some tough opponents. Against conference teams, the Panthers won 11 games and lost 14.

“Which isn’t too bad of a season,” Doleman said by email. “Coach (Travis Akre) brought in some new pieces to the puzzle and we got better over the off-season as a whole. We are looking dangerous as a team this year, so I’m excited for what the season holds for us.”

Until his Grade 10 year at Vanier Secondary, Doleman had played minor hockey with the Comox Valley Chiefs before focusing on baseball. After a year of peewee, he played minor ball in Nanaimo, where he worked with then-VIU coach Jordan Blundell. With the Pirates, he faced tougher competition. He then spent his Grade 11 and 12 years at the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy, a youth development program in Alberta. Teams compete in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL).

“It was a blast coming together with other Canadians to play together in Okotoks with a common goal in mind — to play college baseball…I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime through baseball.”

Last summer, Doleman played for the Melville Millionaires in the WMBL. He struggled at the plate, but made strides defensively. He feels the experience added some mental toughness to his game.

“By the end of the year, I turned it around,” said Doleman, who had previously been a WMBL spectator because he had played at the Okotoks academy. “Playing in the WMBL was kind of like a dream-come-true. Being a Canadian boy playing in front of sometimes, on a good night, a couple thousand fans in Canada is one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.”

Because Ellsworth is a two-year junior college, he plans to later attend a four-year school and compete at the NCAA or NAIA level for his two remaining years of eligibility. After college, he will “do anything it takes” to continue playing the game he loves.

“I had the pleasure of teaching Nate in P.E. every week and he was an absolute joy to have in class,” said Bill Green, a former principal at Airport Elementary who is now a recruiting consultant. “He would always be the first one in the gym, with a great big smile on his face, eager to take on the next challenge. Nate was well liked because he was always thoughtful and supportive of his classmates.”

Doleman said Green “got the ball rolling” en route to earning a scholarship to Ellsworth.

“But the Dawgs coaching staff were the ones who got me to where I am,” Doleman said. “It was like I was at a college program before I was in college.”

The Okotoks credo is ‘Once a dawg always a dawg.’

As a member of the Ellsworth Panthers, Doleman has felt the same brotherly bond.

“We call each other family, that’s what’s unique about our program at ECC. I’m going through a bit of adversity right now, though. I fractured a bone in my hand on a swing on our fourth day of practice in the new year, and I’ll be out for six weeks. So my sophomore season will be a little delayed, but I’m going to work hard to recover, and be back out on the field soon to go to war with my brothers!”

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