“Prairie Titan” Ethan Merk Commits to The Golden Tide and BC’s University of Victoria

by Jim Stewart

Among Ethan Merk’s many qualities as a student-athlete is that he travels very, very well.  

Exceedingly well.

The Regina, Saskatchewan resident flew 2675 kilometers to Toronto, jumped on a plane to Detroit, hopped on the Titans bus in the Motor City,  engaged in a 2605 km bus odyssey that took the Titans from Detroit to Genesee CC  in Batavia, New York; Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland; Garrett College in McHenry, Maryland; Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia; West Virginia Tech in Beckley, West Virginia; University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Ohio; Lakeland CC in Kirtland, Ohio; and Siena Heights College in Adrian, Michigan. 

A dizzying and daunting schedule for most, but the 17 year old pitcher for the 2SK Grizzlies flew home to Saskatchewan and his winter training regimen after the fun and games were completed with the Titans.  He logged nearly 10,000 kilometers over land and air in pursuit of baseball opportunities and a sneak preview of College life.  Those glimpses of US diamonds and campuses confirmed Merk’s future plans as a student-athlete:  “Getting to see what college life was like with the Titans really led me to decide that I wanted to pursue college baseball 100%.”

The pitcher/outfielder, rostered with the Regina Athletics during the SPBL’s summer season, showed no signs of jet or bus lag despite his arduous journey. He was an outstanding performer for the Titans travel team. 18U Head Coach Denis Bailey, one of the quartet of Titans coaches on the USA excursion, applauded his imported pitcher’s versatility:  “Ethan was a big presence for us on the mound and we also sprinkled him in at CF.” Coach Bailey was impressed by the Regina resident’s offensive and defensive talents as well as his adaptability:  “Coming in from a different province isn't easy. Ethan came in and fit with our guys effortlessly.  He was a great team guy during the trip.  Ethan has the potential to contribute right away at the next level on both sides of the ball.”  

Coach Bailey’s prognostication certainly came to fruition on the weekend when Ethan Merk announced his intent to play for the Golden Tide and attend the University of Victoria in 2022.  The resident of Regina offered three reasons for his choice to play and study on Vancouver Island:  “I committed to the Golden Tide and the University of Victoria because of how good of a fit it will be for me. First and foremost, I thought about schooling. The University has a good engineering program, and the program allows students to transfer easily to other schools. Secondly, on the baseball side of things, the team is in a competitive league with lots of good opportunities for high level ball. Also, the Golden Tide is a new team as of this year so the team is young and developing, but look to have a promising future. But being a young team is good for me to see the field sooner. The coach seemed to be very knowledgeable and have a drive for winning and being competitive and I thought he seemed like a guy I would love to play for. Lastly, the city of Victoria is gorgeous, and definitely a place I could see myself living in for 4 years or more. I was able to get there this Fall for a tournament with my travel team and that trip sealed the deal for me on the city.” 

In addition to the beauty of Victoria, BC and the opportunities with a new baseball franchise, there were climatic and topographical considerations at the heart of his decision:  “I am most looking forward to the lack of snow. Living in Regina, I get my fair share of snow so getting away from that, and living by the ocean will be a pleasant change. Living there will be such a different experience with all of the mountains and open water, as opposed to Saskatchewan's prairies and lakes.” 

While the resident of Regina is looking forward to his future in Victoria, he was also reflective and appreciative about his recent College Trip with the Titans:  “Travelling from Regina, to Toronto, then through the States was a tall task to get done, but with Coach Bailey and the Titans, it was made very easy and smooth. Denis set me up with rides to and from the airport, an amazing billet—thanks to the Lanoue Family-- and got me acquainted with the team so well. Everything came together a little last minute so I was concerned as to how well everything would run but the whole process went without a hitch and made for an unbelievable experience.”  In addition to the seamless travel and accommodation logistics organized by Coach Bailey, the soon-to-be first year Engineering student at UVic offered some personal highlights about his “Twelve Days as a Titan”:  “For me, lots of highlights of the Fall College trip came off the field. In such a short amount of time, I came to be very good friends with the guys. They welcomed me so fast and made me feel like I was part of the team as soon as I stepped into the facility on the first day. Travelling for 10 days with a group of strangers was scary for me to think about, but the whole group turned from strangers to great friends instantly. Another big highlight for me was the inter-squad game in Glenville. Going out there and competing with these guys I had been on the road with for the week before was something I wasn't expecting, but came as an amazing surprise. The Titans are a very highly talented group and being able to compete within the team and having the chirps flying around was one of the best parts of the trip. It is hard to pick and choose my favorite moments because the whole experience was better than I could have dreamed of.”

The student-athlete from Saskatchewan’s comfort on and off the field with the Titans could also be attributed to his string of successes during the last three years in the S.P.B. L. that prepared the pitcher/outfielder for the level of competition which took place during the College Trip.  He elaborated on his recent travel baseball experiences in Western Canada:  “In Saskatchewan, we have the SPBL that runs throughout the summer. I have played on the Regina Athletics for the last two years and have had great success with them. As a 15 year old in my first year in 18U AAA, we won the South Division and got second in Provincials. Last year, we won Provincials but did not get to go to Nationals because of COVID. We are looking to go back-to-back this year. During the Fall and Winter months, I travel and train with the 2SK Grizzlies. With the Grizzlies, we play Fall Ball around the province, and made trips to Calgary, Lethbridge, and Victoria to play other high school travel teams, as well as university and college teams. In the Spring, we will be heading to South Carolina to do a College Trip similar to the Titans.” 

With so many similarities between his home baseball program and the Titans travel program, it was apparent why Merk adapted so well to the big bus excursion through the USA.  Regardless, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play for the Titans and provide them with a much-needed additional arm versus US Colleges:  “Thanks to everyone in the Titans organization from players, to coaches, to parents. Getting to play with you guys was the highlight of my baseball career. You have an amazing group of people and athletes there and I am forever thankful for the opportunity you gave me. In my short time with you guys, I could see you guys have something special. I enjoyed getting to compete at the level of the colleges, but the competition and drive within the team was what I noticed most. I can tell everyone works their tail off from the bottom to the top of the organization to get better and I know that will pay off for everyone.”

The Titans Baseball Club wishes Ethan Merk all the best in his Engineering studies at the University of Victoria and on the baseball diamond in the inaugural season of The Golden Tide in 2022.  

We know most certainly that our “Twelve-Day Titan” will travel well!