Playoffs have begun for the Pembina Valley Orioles, and General Manager Sheldon Bergman said the team is ready for the challenge.
“The boys are hungry, they’re looking to win,” he said. “There’s nobody unbeatable in this league. The boys really want to win, we’re not going to go down without a good fight this year.”
The team lost the final game of the regular season to the Altona Bisons, but Bergman said the team played well during their final games.
“Overall the guys gave it their best and that’s all we ask,” he said. “The boys decided on the bench we’re not going out in the first round this year. They’re pretty confident.”
The Orioles took game 1 of the playoffs against the St. James A’s 5-3 on July 16, and return home July 17 for game 2 of the best-of-three series. If necessary, game 3 will take them to Optimist Park on July 18.
This will be also the last year for the General Manager.
Bergman will be leaving the team after seven years with the Orioles. When Brent Laverty, head coach at the time, asked him to help coach (and with his son starting to play on the team) he said it made sense to get involved.
“It’s a lot of work,” Bergman said. “As a general manager, marketing manager, assistant coach… it’s a lot of work.”
Bergman said he has a lot of highlights from his time with the team. “There’s a lot of great kids that I’ve met, a lot of kids that I still have friendships with after all these years,” he said. “I still see them in senior ball.”
One of the moments that stands out to Bergman is going to Westerns in Weyburn, Saskatchewan a few years ago. The team lost in the semi-finals, but Bergman said the experience stands out.
During his time as GM, Bergman said his main message to the players on the team was to have fun. “Our goal every day is to win and fight for a win, and the boys did that all these years as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “We had some tough years and we had some better years but overall I always told the boys to have fun and do your very best. That’s all we’d ask as coaches at that time.”
Bergman said he wants to take some time off to reflect on his family and watching his kids play ball. “I’m a family man,” he said. “To me those are the most important things. I still love baseball, it’s not like I’m not going to go watch Orioles games.”
Bergman said Justin Odlum, Phil Hildebrand and Jim Odlum have been solid coaches to work with. “I trust these guys to carry the team over the years to come,” he said. “They’re awesome.”