LONGMONT — Carl Christensen always knew he would come back to Longmont Christian.
His passion for the kids of the tiny parochial school is unmatched and he wants nothing more than to see them all succeed in every walk of life.
The first big challenge upon his return, after years away in the management side of life, was to put a baseball team together. Not at all an easy thing, especially after the Warriors didn't field a team last season.
So Christensen did what he needed to do and pounded the "pavement" within the school halls and recruited students to come be a part of his team.
When all was said and done, he had 14 kids to don the purple and black Warriors uniform. Only two of those had ever played the game, two more were Korean foreign exchange students and the rest had never even picked up a bat.
And so it began.
"When they first came out, we had to practice throwing the ball back and forth to each other," said Christensen, whose team will embark on a junior varsity schedule this season, that included a 14-3 loss to Denver Christian's varsity on Tuesday at Sandstone Ranch.
"The thing is when kids want to play and they are having fun, they are coachable and they will do everything you say. They do everything I ask them to do and they do it as hard as they possibly can."
For a team that had to learn the basic fundamentals of America's pastime, the Warriors have may tremendous strides since their very first practice.
And for at least the first three innings against the Crusaders, they held their own and even surprised themselves at times. The first batter for Denver Christian in the top of the second inning, Karsen Krier, hit the first pitch he saw from Frank Mazzuca to right field. What most followers would have deemed a "can of corn" was anything but for Warriors right-fielder Joseph Scott.
After taking a circuitous route, he made the play, looked in his glove for confirmation and then celebrated like it was the final out of the World Series.
"I would rather play with a bunch of kids, even though we might lose every game, that just have fun and enjoy what they are doing," said Christensen, whose team's lone hit came from Jalen Dittman in the first inning. "That's the joy of being at a Christian school is that we are able to work on the development and the character of these young men. I had to laugh when I saw Joseph catch that ball, I think it surprised him more than anything."
Christensen is all about teaching his players the basics and while that may take more than this season to develop, he hopes that the groundwork for the future of the program is laid and that when they get to play a varsity schedule in 2017, that the wins will start to come too.
"That's what we are really after this year, is to just develop their skills and get them to enjoy the game," Christensen said.
Denver Christian 14, Longmont Christian 3
At Sandstone Ranch
Denver Christian 211 802 — 14 8 0
Longmont Christian 111 000 — 3 1 7
W — Pete Lanting. L — Frank Mazzuca.
Denver Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Frank Ross 3-2-0-0, Jameson Newcombe 3-4-2-1, Pete Lanting 3-1-2-1, Anders Bierzniks 1-0-0-0, Drake Rice 3-1-1-0, Noah Krier 1-0-0-0, Jacob Kortenhoeven 3-1-0-0, Clay Herrema 3-2-1-0, Colten Natelborg 4-1-1-2, Russell Dyk 3-1-0-1, Karsen Krier 3-1-1-0. Totals 30-14-8-5. 2B — Natelborg. SB — Newcombe 2, Lanting, Rice, Herrema, Dyk.
Longmont Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jacob Berger 3-1-0-1, Daniel Ryu 2-0-0-0, Justin Roh 0-0-0-0, Frank Mazzuca 1-1-0-0, Jalen Dittman 3-0-1-0, Nathan Betsch 2-0-0-0, Christian Hudgins 0-1-0-1, Mitchell Wiley 3-0-0-0, Jon Heinl 3-0-0-0, Joseph Scott 3-0-0-0, Jacob Claypool 0-0-0-0. Totals 20-3-1-2. SB — Berger, Ryu, Dittman.
Denver Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Herrema 3-1-3-3-8-2, Lanting 2-0-0-0-5-5, Kortenhoeven 2-0-0-0-3-3.
Longmont Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mazzuca 3-5-8-2-8-2, Dittman 3-3-6-0-3-0.