New high school head coach wants to make Steamboat a baseball town
A quick peek out the window may not justify it, but baseball season is beginning at Steamboat Springs High School.
It is no secret Ski Town, U.S.A. is not known for its baseball prowess, and the seniors on the team have never seen a winning season. First year head coach Matt Anaya hopes to change that and put Steamboat on the map as a recognizable baseball town.
Anaya comes to Steamboat with over 25 years of experience in the game, stretching all across the country. He plans to stress commitment, responsibility, dependability and discipline this season.
“If we can come to practice and have that mindset and be organized, it’s going to transpire into a season that is already challenging,” Anaya said. “If we get those things dialed in right away, I have no doubt these guys will jump right in and get to business.”
This season features a group of five seniors who are hungry to start winning. Anaya said he will hold the older guys accountable to lead by example and set the tone for what he hopes will be a successful season.
In 2022, the Sailors went 5-15 on the year and closed the year on a five-game losing streak. Senior Dylan Gormley thinks times are beginning to change for the better.
“In the past, it was a bit more lackadaisical sometimes,” Gormley said. “Now, we’ve really turned it on with our focus and energy inside the room, everyone has the drive to win. In the past we haven’t had too many wins and now everyone is trying to look for that winning season.”
Steamboat does not have it easy. With the challenges of winter weather, finding practice space and sharing time with other spring sports, the team enters each game with an immediate disadvantage.
As of now, the team is faced with a full schedule of road games and Anaya believes it is unlikely the team will play at home this year.
What makes it even more difficult is the only times they will step on a baseball diamond this year will be during games. The rest of the season will consist of practices in the high school gym or at Gardner Field.
Senior Dawson Holmes said players never realize how much of a disadvantage that is until the first game of the season.
“The games are a lot bigger,” Holmes said. “You don’t know how much of a difference it is when you’re only throwing 85 feet when you really need to throw over 100 feet. You don’t really get the dirt and the grass field with bad hops and stuff like that.”
All of those obstacles add up to baseball being a secondary sport in Steamboat.
Anaya said that puts a chip on his shoulder. His master plan is to work with the youth groups and host camps in the summer and fall to create a funnel system of good baseball so one day Steamboat is recognized for baseball.
Some players, like Holmes and sophomore Wiley Cotter, grew up in other states where they found a passion for the game. Cotter was in shock when he moved to Steamboat and saw little enthusiasm surrounding baseball.
“It went from a very competitive level to a less competitive level but we’re trying to make it where we bring it up to a competitive level,” Cotter said.
The Sailors will compete in their first games of the season during a double header against Eagle Valley on Saturday, March 25.
Anaya said the entire team is ready to get back in the swing of things and is prepared to take on what should be a fun season of America’s pastime.
“Once we get the cleats strapped on and we cross the fence, smell the grass and the dirt, I think these guys are going to be pretty pumped to put the uniforms on and start a fresh season,” Anaya said. “We’re excited to get that going as soon as we can.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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