Luke Graham: Sailor learns lessons the hard way |

Luke Graham: Sailor learns lessons the hard way

Luke Graham

Luke Graham

— Encompassing Steamboat Springs High School senior Alan Capistron's string of emotions, of ups and downs and eventual success, is tough.

But if it's possible, the string of emotions were encapsulated within three minutes earlier this year.

Capistron is the best baseball player to come out of Steamboat in some time. He entered his senior season prepped for a huge year.

On the mound, he drew the attention of college and pro scouts. His fastball sat in the upper 80s and touched 90 mph. At 6-foot-3 with a lanky build, his future on the mound was promising.

But on a Saturday in late March, Capistron went from a high to a low. He'd just twirled a two-hit, eight-strikeout complete game against Glenwood Springs. Then, while playing first base in the second game of that day's doubleheader, he heard his hamstring pop.

"It was like a gunshot and vibrated through my body," Capistron said.

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He thought it was a pulled hamstring. He thought he'd be out a month.

But then he got the bad news — and everything he worked for was encompassed in three minutes.

The first phone call was from Dr. Eric Verploeg, letting him know he'd have to have surgery to repair the hamstring tendon he tore off the bone.

Three minutes later, the phone rang again. It was a scout from the New York Yankees, wondering the next time he could pitch.

"It was horrible," Capistron said.

Through it all, though, Capistron learned the hard way that things don't always go according to plan.

He'd spent the previous summer, fall and winter doing everything he could to further his baseball career.

He attended elite camps, played as many games as he could and finally had garnered that attention.

There were offers to play baseball. But with a big senior season, there was also the chance Capistron could have heard his name in MLB's June draft.

At least at first, all that went out the door with one pop.

Considering he'd just come off his best start of the early season, where Glenwood hitters were helpless, Capistron said he was devastated he couldn't keep playing.

But lessons in life can come at anytime. Capistron's just happened earlier.

So even though it seemed like things were on their way down, Capistron still found a silver lining.

He's also found a place to play baseball next year.

He debated accepting offers to Mesa State College in Grand Junction or the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

But after keeping in contact with eight pro scouts, he decided the junior college route is the best way to go. Capistron will pitch at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix.

He'll get to play in one of the top junior college regions in the nation.

After two years, he'll have the option of transferring to another school or entering the draft.

"The biggest thing I've learned is reacting after things go bad," he said. "It's being able to stay optimistic.

"It's not the end of the world, even though at the time it seems like it. It links with pitching a lot. You have to have a short-term memory."

In life, and with pitching, Capistron endured a spring unlike most.

But in the end, whether the situation is bases loaded with no outs or an injury that seems like it might derail his future, he'll be better for it.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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