Riley Jepson, a Sicamous Eagles alum, played his first season of National Collegiate Athletic Association baseball with the University of Texas at Tyler Patriots. UTT Patriots image.
Riley Jepson looks back to his time with the Sicamous Eagles with fondness.
“I loved my time in the KIJHL,” says Jepson. “I got the opportunity to play in the league at a pretty young age.”
He was an affiliate at 15, then cracked the roster as a 16-year-old.
“I have a ton of great memories, especially with my teammates,” he says. “I still think of those memories and maintain contact with some of the guys I met.”
Jepson says playing in the league allowed him to stay home and graduate with his friends, but also to mature as a person through athletics.
“Playing with 20-year-olds as a 16-year-old really makes you grow up quick,” the Salmon Arm native says.
He credits the league for helping his athletic career. Physically, hockey helped him stay in shape, improve his hand-eye and get stronger.
“The league helped me improve my mental side of sports with failures and having to deal with the failures,” he says. “The league also got my body used to the grind sports can be, so I went to the university level, I was already used to the bus rides, long practices and the balance you need with school and sports.”
The 23-year-old played 116 career regular season and playoff games with the Eagles. He has 27 goals and 63 points. He didn’t stick to hockey, however. He continued improving as a baseball player through summer camps and got an opportunity to play in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades. He spent three seasons with the Cascades and in his final season, 2019, won a pair of individual awards. He won his second consecutive batting title – hitting .405. He also tied for the league lead in home runs with six. He was a three-time first-team infielder. In 2018, he set the league average record hitting .489.
Jepson made the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2020, joining the University of Texas at Tyler Patriots. Playing for the Cascades allowed Jepson to be ready for the NCAA as he had the chance to play everyday.
“If I had tried to go to the States out of high school, I would most likely have lacked playing time, but UFV allowed me to play and improve my skills through experience.
“My first season with UT Tyler went about as good as I could have imagined,” continued Jepson, who batted .383 with three home runs, 24 runs batted in, scored 21 runs and had 31 hits in 23 games – all starts. “I believe I had a pretty good year personally, especially offensively. My statistics were good, but I felt my impact was more than just numbers. My team finished with a record of 20-4 before COVID interrupted the season. We were ranked 13th nationally.”
Jepson says he was lucky enough to be placed in a great situation with great coaches, teammates and countless other great people he met along the way. I was able to join the team and help make an impact.
Jepson played right field the majority of the season and saw some time in left feld and first base in the fall. Making the change to right field was an adjustment, but he grew into the position more through the season.
Jepson says hockey and baseball can be very comparable in some aspects. Hand- eye coordination, critical thinking, maintaining flexibility, and using certain muscles and movements can be huge in both sports. It was a hard decision for Jepson to quit hockey. He loved both sports, but baseball won out as he felt he could go further.
“I really wanted to go to post-secondary sooner rather than later. Baseball gave me that opportunity to attend school and chase the pro sports dream right out of high school,” he adds.
Jepson doesn’t know what his future holds yet, but he will earn a degree to become a teacher. Working with kids has always been a passion for him.
Jepson and his teammates received an extra year of eligibility because COVID-19 ended the year mid-way through. While he’s had conversations with professional teams over the years, Jepson’s hoping another season of senior ball with a strong performance will lead to a contract.
Sicamous Eagles images