Avalanche baseball players begin fall season
September 9, 2016
As the Park City Avalanche youth baseball teams play their fall league schedules, the 12U squad is working toward more than just wins and losses — spots on the team that will travel to Cooperstown, New York, for a summer tournament are on the line.
Tryouts for the team were held in August and team members are playing in a Utah fall league through the end of September.
This summer, the 12U Avalanche squad coached by Russ Rogers traveled to the tournament at the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rogers said the trip to New York has provided a spark with his team that has carried over into the fall season of 13U games.
"They're definitely playing better because of that extended season," he said. "With that and the Triple Crown tournament in July, we ended up playing through the end of July. When you're getting that extra baseball, you grow as baseball players. There was so much excitement coming back when they played in July. We're now starting fall ball and all but three of the Cooperstown players are back on the team. The other three are playing football, which is why they aren't on the team."
Rogers said the team bonding aspect of the Cooperstown tournament was more important than the games.
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"The players and coaches live together for eight days in the dormitories," he said. "No parents are allowed into that part of the ballpark. It's kind of like a camp atmosphere where you're living with your teammates and playing baseball. Living with each other all day long for a week-plus like that, they all came out of there as best buddies. That's the part I liked even more than the baseball experience. They'll remember this for a long time."
Sending an Avalanche team to the Hall of Fame tournament is becoming a yearly event, Rogers said, noting that this year's 12U team will be the third squad in three years to attend.
"Once you get into Cooperstown, the people there like to invite the same programs back over and over," he said. "It looks like it's going to become an annual tradition for the Avalanche."
Aside from the bonding and camaraderie that develops between the players on a trip like Cooperstown, Rogers said he'd advise next year's Cooperstown-bound squad, which will be coached by Dillon Fugate and Chris Schmidt, to enjoy squaring off against some of the nation's top 12U teams.
"The level of competition out there is unbelievable," he said. "We're essentially taking what I refer to as a neighborhood team out there because we're all from Park City. We'll play teams in Cooperstown where they hold tryouts and they'll have players from three or four counties."
Excitement is building in the youth baseball ranks as the Avalanche play their fall slate of games. This fall, the Avalanche are fielding more teams than in past years, Rogers said.
"Last year, we fielded five fall ball teams," he said. "This year, we're fielding seven. There's a lot of excitement and increased interest in playing baseball in a mountain town."