For Matt Jensen and the Boulder Collegians, there unfortunately have been just too many misconceptions.
After last summer’s resurgence of the baseball team that had a rich history in town and developed a reputation beyond Colorado’s borders, Jensen, the team’s owner and general manager, is hoping some big changes will spur an increase in popularity this coming summer.
Working diligently since September, the Collegians will have a new coaching staff and a flipped-upside-down roster that boasts post-high school talent from Division I to NAIA and Junior College schools around the country.
That opens up a whole new can of worms, as they say, but Jensen is confident that people will soon begin to realize the nature of the organization’s goals.
“I think people still don’t know about who we are,” Jensen said recently as he is preparing for the team’s opening games on May 30. “When I go out meeting with companies (for sponsorships), they think we’re a youth team or a men’s league team, along those lines. We want people to understand that this is high-level baseball. We want to do a better job of getting that across.
“Our philosophy is we want these guys to get good quality reps, give them an opportunity to see a high level of baseball and then bring that back with them to their school or trying to get drafted, whatever the case may be.”
There were areas of emphasis for the front office this offseason, especially when it was known that head coach Brett Manning was going to pursue other opportunities. Still passionate about the Collegians, Manning will continue to play different roles away from the field, while Mark Laschansky will step in as bench boss.
The Collegians will be well-staffed beyond Laschansky, too. Taylor Henry, a Boulder High grad, and Drew Martineau, who was on the Collegians’ player roster last year, were brought on recently. Tom Miller, a longtime Boulder High assistant and lower-level head coach, will return to the bench, too.
“It was important to me to bring in some more quality coaches, more of them to be able to support the team we have,” Jensen said, adding Henry has led the way in recruiting. “Mark and Taylor are both Boulder guys, and I am very excited to have them on board.”
Those coaches will be looked at to mold a completely different roster from last year’s team, which went 19-27 in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League. Jensen said whereas the 2013 roster was 70 percent local players returning home from their college seasons, a majority of the 2014 roster will be players coming to Boulder specifically to play ball in a picture-perfect setting.
Jensen is excited for the addition of former local high school standouts Cole Maltese (Monarch High, University of Northern Colorado) and Connor Messinger (Niwot, Nebraska-Omaha), and the Collegians roster has 14 other states represented as well. While that may increase the level of play overall, it also increases a demand for host families, too.
“It’s a great thing that these guys really want to come play here, that we’ve been able to get out there and start to have the reputation again,” Jensen said. “I certainly think we’ve done a good job of providing a place for local guys to play but yet looking outside Colorado to get some good players to want to spend a summer here.
“Why not come to Boulder, play in a competitive league and have some things to look forward to? I’m very excited to see our improvements.”
The team plays its home games at Scott Carpenter Park, which recently sustained heavy wind damage to its backstop. Already having forced the Boulder High baseball team to play elsewhere throughout the spring, Jensen is optimistic the field will be ready for their season and that contingency plans won’t be put to use.
The Collegians will continue to focus on quality baseball, with the on-field goal to compete for an RMBL title and a chance at the National Baseball Congress World Series. More importantly, they’d like to continue reaching out to the community. The team once again is looking to hold youth camps in June and July, as well as do other community projects through the summer.
More information about the team can be found at bouldercollegians.com, including how to sign up to be a host family.
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