Outgoing coach Aqil Samuel of the SOMBA Tigers (left) talks with player Marlo Spence during a game last season. Samuel is leaving the club to work as general manager for a team in the Western Canadian Baseball League. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Changing of the guard for South Okanagan midget baseball team

Aqil Samuel is leaving the club and will be replaced by Josh Snider

There’s a changing of the guard for the Penticton South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association AAA U18 midget Tigers.

Head coach Aqil Samuel, who guided the club this past season—its first year in that B.C. Minor Baseball Association division—is leaving.

Josh Snider, who hails from Moses Lake, Wash. where he played Pacific International League semi-pro baseball for the last two years, is taking over the role as the team’s head coach and director of player development for the association.

Snider has also been playing as a pitcher and first baseman for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack in Kamloops where he is working on his degree in sport and event management.

READ MORE: Okanagan team bows out early at B.C. baseball championships

For his part, Samuel, who coached the team to a fifth-place finish in the 14-team league this season, received an offer he couldn’t resist.

A friend and former teammate of his has an expansion team in Sylvan Lake in the Western Canadian Baseball League in Alberta and asked him to be the club’s general manager.

“We’re building a 2,200-seat, $8.5 million stadium, so it’s landing my dream job,” said Samuel, who grew up playing baseball just over an hour from where his new team is located. “So after 24 years of coaching and all the years of playing, it kind of feels like the next step.”

Under coaching, the Tigers squad finished with a record of 23 wins and 15 losses and earned a spot in the provincial championship.

“We’ve got a young guy (Snider) and this is a big step for SOMBA. I’m really excited about what we’ve done here and what the next few years are going to bring,” said Samuel.

During the past two seasons there has been a concerted effort by the association’s board to restore baseball to the high level it once was in the city, which included hiring a coach for the team.

“SOMBA and the midget baseball program is sad to see Aqil go. He brought a lot of knowledge and passion to his coaching and I would say that coaching with him was a like a trip around the world, an exciting whirlwind,” said SOMBA president and assistant midget coach Iain MacIntyre. “We are very happy for him with the new opportunity he has as general manger.”

READ MORE: Magic number 4 clinches playoff spot for Penticton baseball squad

“As sad as we are in losing Aqil, we are equally excited about the person taking over his position,” said MacIntyre.

“Josh has a ton of baseball experience and has been involved with coaching legends Ray Chadwick of TRU and Marty Lehn of Big League Academy.”

Snider has worked with the Oliver-based academy for the past three years and has coaching experience at the U13 and U15 levels, along with high school baseball.

Snider will also work with other teams in SOMBA creating practice plans for coaches at all levels and going to practices to create consistency throughout the organization.

He begins his new job in September and work through the winter months to prepare the young players for their upcoming season.

This story has been updated with clarification from the source.

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Josh Snider in action with the Thomson Rivers University WolfPack baseball team. Snider is taking over as SOMBA U18 AAA Tigers baseball team and director of player development for the association. (contributed)

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