John F. Russell: Passing time between ski races, storms
When you live in a mountain town made famous by Olympic skiers, it’s easy to understand why a sport such as baseball might be considered the other sport.
For many children in Steamboat, baseball is something you do in the summer to stay in shape for skiing or hockey instead of running or riding a mountain bike all the time. It’s the sport perfectly designed to pass the time between ski races and snowstorms.
But last week, groups from Ski Town USA and the surrounding area made the case for Baseball Town USA, at least for a day. They batted, pitched and played their way to the Colorado state title.
Next week, the team will travel to Grand Junction to play in the Southwest Regional — if they find a way to win there, it’s on to the Little League World Series in Michigan.
Growing up, every child who had seen the Bad News Bears dreamed of going to the Little League World Series.
No one expected this Steamboat team to win the state title, but they are the best players this town has to offer. They were stars on their Little League baseball teams and played well enough to catch the eyes of local coaches.
The team didn’t lose a game en route to winning the District 3 championship.
The team has solid pitching, has gotten hits from every part of its lineup and has found a way to win six games, a district title and a state title.
During that run, the team lost just one game.
They have topped teams that play year-round and have made a habit of keeping Little League titles on the Eastern Slope.
But if the team doesn’t win in Grand Junction, if it doesn’t advance to the World Series, it doesn’t mean that the team has failed. This group of 14-year-olds already has won by setting an example and giving local baseball supporters hope for the future.
It proves that a baseball team that only plays on a field three months each year and is forced to practice inside in the spring can be competitive with programs in more favorable climates.
It also proves that a Little League team can find a place in a town where skiing and hockey are the typical sports of choice.
In just a few weeks, athletes in Steamboat Springs will move onto other things. Football will replace baseball outside and most children will begin the process of getting back into shape for the ski season.
But for now, we can all cheer for nine children who are just passing the time between ski races by playing baseball.
— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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