It started as a letter full of hope, but ended in disappointment for Steamboat Springs baseball coach Sean Hicks.
This fall, Hicks put together a wish list of sorts for the high school program and sent it off to the Colorado Rockies in hopes that the professional organization could help in providing Hicks with some of the items he wants -- and needs -- to push the Sailors forward.
The Rockies responded Dec. 15 and said they would be unable to provide Hicks with anything, not even a box of baseballs, which costs about $60.
"The Colorado Rockies Baseball Club receives many requests for support from a wide variety of worthy organizations each year," Jim Kellogg, senior director for community and retail operations, wrote in his response letter to Hicks. "We regret that we must decline your request, and we wish you and your organization continued success."
Hicks isn't trying to bring down the Rockies. He is aware that the baseball club receives high volumes of requests. He's just trying to find support for the Steamboat program in every way he can.
"I want the best for the kids that all the other teams have," Hicks said. "I think it would help the future of the program. Then, as coaches, we can concentrate on teaching them instead of figuring out how to raise the money, get these things and then teach."
Baseball in Steamboat Springs is not funded by the school district so everything the program needs, including coaches' salaries, is paid for through donations. This spring will mark Hicks' third with the Sailors. When he started, Steamboat was wearing red and black tops and gray pants with blue pinstripes. The Sailors didn't look much better playing baseball, either.
Steamboat has new uniforms and the brand of baseball it plays has changed, as well. Though the Sailors aren't winning high numbers of games, they are competitive. Preston Stanfill, a 2003 graduate, has gone on to play at the collegiate level.
"Nobody likes to lose," Stanfill said. "But we took positives away. In the last couple of years, we made strides."
Hicks attended Overland High School in Denver, and he wants to give the Steamboat players the same opportunities he had while on the Front Range. The Sailors can't practice outside as often as teams from Denver because of the climate, but there are things Steamboat can do inside.
Among the things Hicks said the program needs are expensive items such as batting cages and pitching machines. The batting cage in use is more than 15 years old, Hicks said, and the Sailors have no pitching machines.
But the Steamboat program also needs items like hats and bats and equipment bags.
"The coaches take the minimum so the rest can go to new equipment for the kids," Hicks wrote in his letter to the Rockies. "Although the community is very giving, you can only ask for so much from them. With a population of approximately 12,500 people that money only goes so far."
Hicks just wants the program to go further.
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