This is the fifth in a series of articles about Comox Valley student athletes who are moving onto the next level in their sport.
In his freshman year, Adam McKillican worked his way into a starting role on the mound for the UBC Thunderbirds baseball team. The Comox Valley product began his second year as the number two starter after a successful summer with the Victoria HarbourCats, a collegiate team that competes in the West Coast League. McKillican, 20, was named HarbourCats pitcher-of-the-year last year.
The T-birds ball team competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) league. It also played exhibitions against Division 1 opponents at Seattle University and the U of San Diego.
“The NAIA has some very good competition,” said McKillican, a 6’5” right-hander. He has finished his second year of kinesiology. “Our conference rival Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho) is consistently a top 10 ranked team in the NAIA and always produces some exciting ball games.”
After a rocky start to the season, his team went on a 10-game win streak at home. The squad made the playoffs and conference tournament in Mesa, Arizona, secured second place, and advanced to the regional California tournament, where it was knocked out.
Due to an elbow injury, McKillican wasn’t able to pitch in the regional tourney. But after a summer of rehab and conditioning, he says he should be good to go in the fall. In his third year, he expects to inherit more of a leadership role with the UBC pitching staff.
A graduate of Isfeld Secondary, McKillican played three years of baseball in the Parksville Royals organization under head coach Dave Wallace, pitching coach Jim Seredick and assistant coach Wes Dieleman.
“They taught me so much about the ‘right way’ to play the game, and how to conduct yourself as a professional on and off the field. I owe much of my success to them,” McKillican said.
Another instrumental person in his development was recruiting consultant Bill Green, who helped with the application process, and how to market to target schools. McKillican started looking into schools in the summer of Grade 11, and began applying during Grade 12. He had committed to an NCAA school in the U.S. in May but changed his mind and signed with UBC in June.
“He (Green) was always pushing me to find a bigger, better school, and was a big player in my journey to the college level,” McKillican said. “He has always been an excellent mentor, and stressed the importance of grades and academic success as well as athletic ability.”
Next year and the following season, McKillican is eligible for the Major League Baseball draft.
“Every year, the NAIA produces MLB draft picks, including five from UBC in the last three years. I hope to join the ranks of UBC players to have been drafted by major league teams and continue my baseball career professionally.”
UBC’s head coach Chris Pritchett says McKillican has a bright future, considering his arm speed and ability to leverage his height.
“He comes downhill on hitters, which scouts love to see,” Pritchett said. “He continues to get a bit better and better. He’s featuring pro-type stuff out there, if he keeps progressing like he has been.
“He’s definitely got all the things that you’d look for,” Pritchett added. “It’s just a matter of continuing to get stronger and keep honing your craft. He’s the type of kid that will do that. He’s extremely driven. He’s a really good student. He’s a pretty special athlete.”