John F. Russell: Inspiring love for the game
Dave Roy doesn’t have to tell me, or anyone else for that matter, that he loves the game of baseball.
I got to know Dave when he served as head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School baseball program. When he left a few years ago, I asked him why, and he uttered some excuse about not being able to give the program the time it deserves and wanting to enjoy his retirement. I guess his excuse for stepping aside is fair enough.
Dave is no longer coaching the high school team, but at least once per year, I pick up my ringing phone, and it’s Dave on the line and his love for baseball comes across loud and clear — even on a cellphone.
The past couple of times he’s called, Dave has been promoting his latest passion — bringing a collegiate-level baseball team, the Storm, to Steamboat Springs.
This June, players from across the country will start arriving in Steamboat, and for the next six weeks or so, they’ll call our town home. They will come here with plans to take their game to the next level, but Dave is hoping the players also will find support and a following in the mountains of Northwest Colorado. He is hoping that this talented group of players will bring their love of the game of baseball to a town that is rooted in skiing.
The team enjoyed a successful first season last year, won a few games and learned that there are more than a few hardball fans in Ski Town USA.
The Storm will play doubleheaders starting in early June and continuing through July 17. The college players will test their talents against five other teams in Northwest Colorado, and the play on the field will raise the level of baseball across the Western Slope.
However, to achieve that level of success, the team will have to find some support in our community. Dave is looking for families who might be willing to take a player in for a few weeks, and he also hopes to fill the stands for the home games with tons of cheering fans.
Sure, baseball fans in our corner of the state will still have to make the three-hour drive to Denver if they want to watch Major League Baseball, but the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League will offer something that’s hard to find in towns such as Steamboat, Glenwood and Vail — the chance to watch a young hungry player grow into a star. I’m not saying that all the players who take the field in Steamboat this summer will find a place on a major league roster, but a few of them could.
What this league offers to baseball fans in Steamboat is a chance to go out to the ballpark and get behind a team that represents our town. Win or lose, these players will be giving it their all, and for several weeks, they’ll become a part of our community.
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