2023 PBA Hall of Fame Inductees
The Prairie Baseball Academy is honoured to induct Natasha Buis Deering into our Hall of Fame. A true leader in every sense, she has been integral in helping student athletes on their academic journeys.
Over the last 20 years, Natasha has worked with PBA players at both Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge. For anyone who has worked with or alongside Natasha, they’ll agree that her passion is unmatched. She truly believes in the transformative experience that takes place when we go to College or University, and nowhere is that more obvious than at Prairie Baseball Academy.
Back at the college, Natasha’s office overlooked the Centre Core where the players would sit, always proudly decked out in their PBA gear. The players almost never booked appointments but, instead, would knock on her window and ask to talk. Natasha almost always said yes. Naturally, these impromptu meetings would drive the receptionist crazy! It demonstrates her willingness to put students first – a trait that’s only boldened over her tenure in the post-secondary sector.
Whether advising students on which courses to take, helping with registration, building transfer relationships, or giving a much-needed pep talk, Natasha recognized that each player was unique, with different backgrounds and experiences, and different levels of talent and goals. She understood the pressure these high performing student-athletes were under and gave real meaning to the phrase ‘happy to help’.
Natasha has been instrumental in assisting our student athletes pursue their passions on and off the field. She has had a front row seat to the transformation undergone by hundreds of players as they grew into academic scholars, career professionals, incredible athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and impressive human beings. Natasha stills cheers players on long after they have moved on to new careers, programs, and lives.
She’s always been a fan of the sport and even played until she was in her early 20s. She knows how much players and their families sacrifice for them to be out on that diamond, making a name for themselves and their team. She continues to share her love of the sport and our program by bringing her daughter, husband, and friends along to cheer for the Prairie Baseball Academy.
The amount she knows about the post-secondary roadmap and how to be a successful student-athlete is impressive. Even more impressive is Natasha’s genuine ability to connect with anyone at any time on any subject. She’s one of those rare people who just gets it. Natasha, we’re so lucky to have had you in our corner all these years.
Congratulations to Natasha Buis-Deering on being inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2023!
The Prairie Baseball Academy and the PBA Alumni Association are extremely excited to be honoring Les McTavish with induction into the PBA Hall of Fame for 2023. Les is being inducted based on his accomplishments as both a player and a coach.
McTavish is originally from Stettler, Alberta, and had a very successful youth baseball career. Les competed for Team Alberta from 1994-97. He played in the Canada Cup, Western Canada Summer Games and finished in third place at the 1997 Canada Summer Games.
Following his youth playing days, McTavish took his talents to Lethbridge where he was part of the first season of the Prairie Baseball Academy in 1995-96. With talent, work ethic and strong academics, McTavish was the first PBA player to receive a scholarship to a United States school. McTavish competed for four years at NCAA Division 1, Washington State University as a relief pitcher. He still boasts the second most pitching appearances in school history. McTavish showed later generations of PBA players that it was possible to not only move on after PBA, but to be an impact player at the next level. Since 1995-96, well over 200 student-athletes have moved on from the Prairie Baseball Academy to 4-year schools in North America.
Following his playing days, McTavish jumped straight into coaching, and has built one of the finest baseball coaching resumes in provincial history. McTavish has had coaching stints with Lethbridge American Legion (1998-2001), PBA (2001-02), Team Alberta (2002), Lethbridge Bulls (2002-04), Canadian Junior National Team (2004-08, 2021/22), Guest Coach/Scout for the Seattle Mariners (2001-2020), and Philadelphia Phillies Scout 2021-present. McTavish has also had the honour of managing the World Team against Team USA at two Super Series, the 1st in Phoenix in 2018 and Boston at Fenway Park in 2019.
McTavish’s coaching experiences culminated in the creation of the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball in 2006. The first of its kind in Canada, McTavish wanted an academy-style experience for elite high school baseball players from across Canada. With hard work, dedication and an incredible group of people around him, McTavish has grown Vauxhall Baseball into one of the premiere high school baseball academies in Canada. Since the inception in 2006, over 130 players have moved on to play professional and/or collegiate baseball following their time in Vauxhall. McTavish has had 18 players picked in the MLB draft or signed professional contracts.
It is safe to say McTavish has had an incredible career in baseball, and he continues to better himself as a coach and as a person. VAB was the catalyst that generated close to a dozen high school academies in Alberta as of 2022. Youth baseball players have never had more options to improve their skills and continue the dream of playing collegiate baseball. The landscape of Alberta Baseball has been forever changed by McTavish’s vision. The Prairie Baseball Academy is so proud to be able to induct such a great man, and a great baseball mind into our Hall of Fame, Congratulations Les!
The Prairie Baseball Academy Alumni Association is honoured to be inducting Les Colwill into the PBA Hall of Fame for 2023. Like many other PBA HOF members previously inducted, Les was a huge supporter of PBA during the early years. A true volunteer in every sense of the word, Les was always a friendly face, open for a conversation and had some of the best stories to tell from his own athletic career. Les had a very successful hockey career, including a stint with the New York Rangers in 1958-59 playing against the likes of: Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull and Frank Mohovlich in a rough and tough era of professional hockey.
Les’ major contribution to the Prairie Baseball Academy came each year with the golf tournament. When Les took over as the lead organizer the tournament was a minor fundraiser for PBA. With his boots on the ground, face-to-face approach Les was able to grow the tournament into one of PBA’s major fundraisers. The PBA golf tournament, since renamed the Keith Jorgensen Memorial Scholarship Tournament has raised countless thousands of dollars over the 27 years PBA has been in existence. Since Les was forced to hand the reigns over due to his failing health, the tournament has only continued to grow. Last year PBA was honoured to have over 40 alumni participate and close to $30,000 was raised to directly fund PBA player scholarships.
As previously mentioned, Les has faced some severe health issues over the last few years including a loss of vision. He still lives in Lethbridge with his lovely wife Carol. The PBAAA wanted to make sure to honor such a vital contributor to the early years of PBA. A lot of Les’s other contributions to the Prairie Baseball Academy have been lost through the passage of time, but it is well known that our annual golf tournament would be nowhere near where it is today without Mr. Les Colwill. Thank you Les for everything you have done for this program and congratulations on being inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame!