From Rams to Sailors |

From Rams to Sailors

Six South Routt athletes travel to Steamboat to play baseball

Baseball players Matt Watwood, Jordan Chikalla, Alex Estes and Cody Miles stretch before Thurdsay night's practice at the high school gym. The four players are just a few of the athletes that have traveled from Oak Creek this spring to be a part of the Sailors team.
John F. Russell

— Trading the maroon and white of Soroco for the white and red of Steamboat can be tough.

But when it came down to it, the choice was easy for six South Routt athletes.

They all love baseball.

They’ve all played since tee ball.

They all commute 50 miles daily so they can play.

Because Soroco doesn’t have a baseball team, seniors Kane Johnson, Skylar Mitchell, sophomore Jordan Chikalla, freshmen Alex Estes, Cody Miles and Matt Watwood drive to Steamboat and suit up for coach Dave Roy and the Sailors.

“At least we get to play,” Watwood said. “You get in later, it’s a longer drive, and we usually have late practices, but that’s OK.”

And for coach Roy, it’s more than OK to have them on the team.

Roy said the six players’ dedication and commitment to the game show him all he needs to know.

“The one big thing they bring is desire,” Roy said. “That’s the one thing that’s important to learning this game.”

Although the Sailors haven’t had the best season to date (the Sailors are 1-6 overall and 0-2 in the Western Slope League), it doesn’t seem to phase the players from South Routt.

In the end, they said, it’s better than the alternative.

“Sometimes it’s hard to wear our hats with the ‘SS’ around school,” Mitchell said. “But we get to keep playing baseball, so we don’t worry about it.”

All of the players said the transition to playing baseball has been easy. Most of the players on the Sailors’ 25-man roster have played summer ball together. Some South Routt players said the camaraderie on the team is the best they’ve seen. The vibe before, during and after games doesn’t reflect that some players are from one area and some are from another. Instead, it reflects the only thing that matters: They’re a team.

“The one thing I like about this is, at Soroco, there seems to be a lot of seniority issues,” Johnson said. “That’s not the case here. A lot of times, you’ll see freshmen hugging seniors.”

Although the schedule can be demanding, especially for Johnson, Estes, Miles and Watwood, who all compete in track and field for Soroco, all the players said it’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make.

If practice is late, they’ll do their homework right after school. If practice is early, homework waits until they get home.

“There’s no spare time to do anything,” Miles said. “It’s school, baseball, school and more baseball.”

Although all of the players bring something different to the team, Roy said the main thing they all bring is that keen sense of dedication.

“The fact that they drive 25 miles one way and 50 miles roundtrip indicates the extent of that commitment,” he said. “They all have talent, and they all put in the work.”

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