Memories of Wildcat athletics: I will miss the relationships most
Editor’s Note: Throughout the rest of 2016 Western Nevada College baseball and softball seasons, which is the last for WNC athletics, the Appeal is featuring columns every Sunday from those who are sharing their memories of the programs.
I was hooked on WNC baseball from the first game I attended. The year was 2006, and my son was 9 years old. It was hard not to fall in love with the WNC experience; it was a brand new turf field nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada that offered majestic views of our proud community just beyond the outfield fence.
The sounds matched the views, with the P.A. announcer’s soft, velvety voice, and the excellent music in between innings. We followed the Wildcats as much as possible; whether it was watching a game on a Friday afternoon, or listening to the voice of the Wildcats Chris Graham on the internet. Our community has been blessed with a nationally recognized baseball program from the onset. For the past 10 years, the team excelled on the field, in the classroom and even at our local Little League, mentoring our town’s youth. It was indeed special. And now, it’s going away.
When I reflect on my memories of following the program, I can’t help but think about the trips to the JUCO World Series in 2007, 2009 and 2012. Another fond memory was watching Bryce Harper of the College of Southern Nevada get shut down by our humble team from Carson City. WNC swept CSN the year Harper played for the Coyotes, and I couldn’t have been more proud of our young men!
For the past four years, I have had the opportunity to umpire WNC’s fall and winter scrimmages. Although the games were just inter-squad scrimmages, they meant a lot to the players. They were fighting for roster spots, playing time, or a spot in the starting lineup. Coach Whittemore always showed his appreciation for us volunteer umpires. He recognized our contribution to the program, and emphasized the importance of our presence in helping get the players ready for the season. He made us feel as much a part of the program as the team itself.
When people ask me what I will miss the most, it will be without a doubt the relationships I have forged with the players and coaches. I have never been around such a group of respectful, appreciative, humble, hard working young adults in my life. They have captured my heart with their work ethic on the field and in the classroom. They help us umpire Little League, they teach and mentor our kids. Coach Whittemore and his staff have a gift of recruiting prospects who put egos aside, and work as a team to accomplish their goals on and off the field. These talented young men grind out every inning, every play, every pitch. I liken them to warriors on the field of battle. The way they play and conduct themselves as young adults make it easy to be a fan of the program.
WNC’s impeccable winning record, scholastic awards and high percentage of players making it to the next level speak volumes of the gem of a program we have here in our own back yard. It saddens me to think it will be gone in a couple months. To the coaching staff, current and former players, I wish you nothing but the best life has to offer. It has been an honor to be a part of something so great.