The Story of Four Kids Motivated by the Love of the Game
The 2011 season for the Colorado College Club Baseball team was a roller coaster ride that will never be forgotten. We came into the season with 6 returning players, and hope that we would get enough support from the incoming freshman class. We no graduating seniors, we knew this was going to be a rebuilding year, and the season started out as such. However, before we get to that point it is worth noting how this team came to being, Four years ago a group of motivated sophomores decided it was no longer okay for CC not to have a baseball team. They set out in the hopes of creating a club team, thereby bringing a baseball team to the school for the first time since Title 9 was passed.
Led by Matt Kerns, Eddie Spears and Tristan Kanipe and Brad Dixon, a baseball team was formed, and placed into the NCBA (National Club Baseball Association) Division II league. While the first two years were rough, both ending with CC possessing a losing record, the 3rd year proved to be different. Last year for the first time in the programs history, CC finished with a winning record, and even more impressively won the series against division and city rival UCCS, who had dropped down from DI club that year. It was awesome to be able to celebrate a winning record with the seniors who had created the team, because for them it justified all the hard work they had to put into it. However, as happy as it was to celebrate the accomplishment, the harsh reality set in that this core of the team, our four seniors were graduating and moving on to bigger and better things. What was remaining was four sophomores and two freshman, and a whole lot of confusion.
With Matt Valeta and I both studying abroad in the fall this year, the day to day operations of preparing for the spring season was left to Russ Pagan, Chuck Lovering and Sam Brody. These three sat in on activities fair, met with prospective students, etc. and managed the team, while a lot paperwork and necessary busy work for the season was done abroad by Matt and I. We both came back excited about the possibility and praying for enough freshmen to continue this club. What we found was a whole host of new faces ready to step in and fill some of the roles that had left to go work in Washington. Reuben Mitrani, Jayson Post, Jesse Paul, Bradley Bachman and Stephan Gayle joined us as freshman, Will Allenbach transferred in from Tulane as a sophomore, and Chris Lowenstein joined the team as a junior. All of these additions gave us hope for the season to come. However, we also realized which such a young team, that there was going to be a lot of road bumps and learning experiences.
The season started out rough, with the rust of the team being the most apparent aspect of the team. This culminated in a 8-2 lead being blown in the 7th(final) inning against Western State. Lots of errors led to bad losses, and about halfway through the season we got together as a team and decided we had had enough. We started playing better, and took two of three from Fort Lewis, and played better against UCCS and Western. I injured my ankle over spring break, and took on the coaching role during two of our biggest series. However, the season ended on a positive note, with us ending the season on a 3 game winning streak, finishing with a 2 game sweep of Fort Lewis. With the season coming to a close, one thing stood out to my co-captains and I; we weren’t graduating anyone. We plan on returning at least 13, with hope for 5-6 freshman, and a couple current students joining on. However, while our regular season was over, one of the most inspiring moments of the season was yet to come.
Earlier in the season the coach from DU had let the league know that a player on their team had passed away from a skiing accident. While we as a team were unavailable to attend the memorial, the coach Jared Floyd proposed a memorial game between DU and CC in honor of Joe Lubar. We thought it was an incredible idea, and said we would love to participate. Son on the second Sunday of 8th block we drove down to Denver not quite sure what to expect. What we encountered was an incredible afternoon full of events that made us completely forget the fact that it was over 90 degrees out. The day started with the announcement of both teams, and both of us lining up on the field, followed by the Lubar family coming out to the pitchers mound. Then an accapella group from DU performed “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, which brought tears to the eyes of many. Afterwards a music student at DU came and sang an incredible rendition of the national anthem. After that DU retired the jerseys of Joe Lubar, and presented the framed jerseys to the family. We then presented an engraved bat on behalf of CC and the club baseball team.
Finally the younger brother came out and threw the first pitch, which began the game. The feeling that overcame both teams was that this game was not about beating their rival, but instead something much bigger. Both teams were cheering for one another, and simply enjoying the 9 inning game that insued. Both teams were able to use all their players, and over 100 fans were in attendance, including families from the Colorado College team. Overall it was one of those experiences that moves you, and you walk away from knowing you took part in something special. The coach and I talked after the game about making this a yearly tradition, and it may be that it would come to CC next year, which is something that CC should look forward too if given that opportunity.