Since their inception five years ago, the Boulder Collegians have always tried to reach out to Boulder's youth teams — whether it be through clinics during the collegiate summer season, or simply getting kids involved on game day at Scott Carpenter Park.
For general manager Matt Jensen, however, the Collegians are amplifying their brand in 2017 and hopefully beyond. In addition to providing those same opportunities while the college-level team is in season, the Collegians are looking to expand to the youth levels by presenting BoCo Baseball, essentially a group of showcase teams that Jensen hopes will provide some middle ground in the area between club and high school ball.
As the specialization of youth sports continues to make ripples in the water, Jensen said he has seen some nasty trends and many undelivered promises. He hopes that BoCo Baseball is another avenue for kids in Boulder County to get some great baseball training while still staying true to their high school teams.
"We've been approached several times of the past few years by local ballplayers asking us why we don't have we have a youth program or a club organization, and that's just something I had never thought about before," Jensen said Thursday. "We want people to know there is going to be another option.
"We want to offer an option that isn't affiliated with a particular high school, but we also want to build a level of trust to where our local high school coaches aren't afraid to send their kids to us for some more quality instruction."
BoCo Baseball will consist of teams for ages 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14, with a senior team of graduated high school players also getting a chance to compete in tournaments and against some college-level competition. Some of the youth teams will play in the Longmont Baseball League but for the most part they will play independently.
The Collegians, who will also get the chance to play more home games at SCP in 2017, will be heavily involved particularly on the coaching side of things. They will work in concert with Extra Innings Longmont to provide occasional year-round instruction and the game schedule will remain limited.
As has been a strong point of emphasis with the Collegians, Jensen said BoCo Baseball has already been involved in service projects in the community.
"The epitome of what we're supposed to be doing with young people is teaching them to be better people, and it's things like that I really want to intertwine with our organization," Jensen said. "People are responding to it."
As the Collegians get more involved in the community, the hope is the community continues to ramp up its support of the college team. The squad only had a select few home games last year but should see twice the amount of home dates this summer, including the RMBL All-Star Game and the Independence Day game that offers a prime viewing of the fireworks over Folsom Field afterwards.
The schedule is still to be finalized, but the Collegians will once again be offering a "beer garden" with a rotation of Boulder's finest microbrews.
"It's nice to see that everything we've been doing in the community this year was respected by the city and finally it felt like we're a legitimate user of the field," Jensen said. "A lot of local businesses are starting to take notice of us."
The organization is looking for host families for incoming college ball players. Information about that as well as other team info can be found at www.bouldercollegians.com.