When the Soroco baseball team disbanded before Ben Montoya's junior season, his attention shifted toward Steamboat Springs.
He played on tournament teams with former Sailors assistant coach Gary Engle when he was 13 and 14, so he was familiar with the program and some of its players.
Montoya committed to making the nearly 40-mile, round-trip trek to Steamboat for practices and games because quitting baseball wasn't an option.
"I missed a couple practices because of the weather," he said. "But I like baseball, so it would have sucked to not be able to play."
But Montoya isn't making the drive on Colorado Highway 131 alone. Although seniors Lindsay Ellis and Montoya don't carpool, they frequently can be seen driving back and forth between South Routt and Steamboat.
Ellis has been making the drive for four years because Soroco has never had a soccer program. In fact, if Steamboat didn't have a stable program, Ellis might still be in Littleton.
"I've played soccer since I was 3," Ellis said. "One of the conditions to move up here was to have a soccer team to play for."
Ellis joined a club team in Steamboat in seventh grade and has been playing with many of the same girls since. The core group are juniors and seniors, and they have guided the Sailors to an 11-0 overall record this season. Ellis has not been on the losing end of a league game since she was a freshman.
"We want to show everyone that Western Slope soccer isn't a joke," Ellis said.
Ellis and Montoya are important contributors to their respective teams. Ellis is a smart, versatile player who can be used on attack and defense.
Montoya began the season as Steamboat's ace pitcher, but an injury to starting catcher Charles Cogburn forced Montoya to assume catching responsibilities several weeks ago. Offensively, Montoya is batting .375 in the third or fourth spot of the lineup. He has settled in and feels more like a Sailor than when he arrived last spring.
"It took almost half the season before I was comfortable," Montoya said.
Now, he is rarely seen without his red baseball cap, even during school.
"Some of my teachers make fun of me because I wear my Steamboat hat," he said.
Ellis also likes to wear her Steamboat soccer sweats around, but she said she wasn't always encouraged to be a Sailor.
"At first, no one liked that I was going to a different school to be playing a sport when I could have been playing a sport at Soroco," Ellis said.