It’s sad, really, that CSU has a club baseball team. Not sad in the fact that there’s a team, because these guys are anything but sad. It is just disheartening that little “club” title is associated with them.
The only “club” thing about this team is that the players have to pay to play, sometimes upwards of $600 a year. The big boys (varsity teams) get rewarded with cash for making the national tournament. These guys just have to pay more. It’ll be nice this year when the team goes to nationals in Pueblo, not Syracuse, N.Y., last year’s site.
These guys don’t get school credit for what they do, though they should. Tuesday through Friday is practice; weekends are for games.
“Mondays are really our only days off,” said senior Trevor Brewster, one of a handful of guys coach Frank Gonzales says could be on scholarship elsewhere.
But they’re here, at CSU, playing baseball for the game of baseball. They’re not at UNC, because it stinks there. They’re not at Air Force, because CSU always has better sports than the Academy. They’re at CSU, where there is no varsity team anymore.
“Quite a few guys on the team also have jobs,” Brewster said. “So they’re working, playing baseball, going to school; it is a big commitment. But people want to do it, though.”
Gonzales played on CSU’s varsity team, which stopped receiving money in 1992. He then proceeded to play in the minor leagues. He and his coaching staff have more experience than any other “club” team you’ll find. The coaches, too, have passed up opportunities to get paid for what they do. (Well, they do get some money, but the amount is similar to what you’d pay a volunteer.)
There has been talk recently of CSU adding another varsity sport. We have 15 now, but to go with the athletic department’s desire to become more nationally prominent, you gotta have 16. And why wouldn’t you have baseball?
It’s a shame that as the Rockies embark on another disappointing season, the next best teams in the state are in Colorado Springs. Come on, Air Force is the only Div. I baseball program in the state? It’s a good thing Wyoming doesn’t have a varsity program either, or our two biggest conference rivals would actually have something on us.
All we need is the athletic department’s support. Just give Gonzales some money, and he’ll do the rest. As a semi-pro coach in the summer, Gonzales has a tap on the state’s best talent. If he could dangle a scholarship in front of some of those guys, he guarantees a competitive Mountain West team in two to three years. If not, he says to get rid of him.
“You either want to be a major competitor, a major Division I type school, or you don’t,” Gonzales said. “Not having baseball – which used to be America’s pastime, I don’t know if it still is – being one of two schools in the Mountain West that doesn’t have it, I think you would consider us not really a Division I school; or a little lesser than what we should be, and kind of a cop out in a way. That makes me sad as an alum and someone who really loves CSU.”
He could keep a solid core of the guys he already has. Some would have to go, especially since 28 are on the team and the NCAA only allows 25, but the CSU coaches have established a baseball program that breeds success.
“If we don’t get Division I baseball here in the next two, three, four or five years, I will get a player signed off this club team,” Gonzales said. “I’ve got one or maybe two right now who I think could go on and play (professionally).”
Imagine that: A guy from CSU’s “club” team climbing through the ranks of professional baseball.
It’s sad that his first few years would be spent earning back the money he spent on playing in college.
Jon Ackerman is a junior journalism major.