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Texas at home in the ‘Boat

Triple Crown not just about baseball

— Whoever said things are bigger in Texas must have been talking about the Houston Avengers.

Well, at least in the way the team travels.

Parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and probably some pets made up quite an entourage to follow the group of 12-year-olds to Steamboat Springs for this weekend’s Triple Crown World Series.

Fifty in all — about half of whom completed the 19-hour, 1,200-mile drive from the lowlands of Texas to the mountains of Steamboat — made the trek up to support their team.

While the Avengers qualified for four other championship tournaments around the country, Steamboat Springs instantly became the desired destination. Starting three months ago, the Avenger following started making reservations to stay in Steamboat.

“We just wanted to come to Steamboat,” Avengers head coach Jim Magnuson said. “We’ve known since March that we were coming.”

“If they had the chance, my kids would move here in a second,” added team mom and Magnuson’s wife, Sally.

Soon after the Avengers 3-0 win Friday against a team from Broomfield, all the players, parents and friends piled into a media room at Howelsen Hill. The place was standing room only, and the buzz instantly turned to what’s already happened in Steamboat and how their last few days should be spent.

So far, the team has gone river rafting, visited the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, went horseback riding and, of course, taken advantage of the Alpine Slide.

“It’s been outstanding,” Jim Magnuson said. “It’s a well run tournament and a fun town. I give it an A-plus.”

While Triple Crown offers the Avengers a chance to compete with teams it has never played against and knows nothing about, it also gives parents an opportunity to get away from fast-paced Houston. Although parents said they enjoyed Steamboat and the things to do here, they enjoyed the friendly locals the most.

“It’s very difficult for us to come down to y’all’s type of lifestyle,” Sally Magnuson said. “Houston is just go, go, go. It’s a vacation for all of us here. It’s just been an amazing place.”

The Houston Avengers are a 13-team organization comprised of players ranging in age from six to 12. They play all over Texas and average about 35 games a year. Whenever the opportunity arises to play in different tournaments, they jump at the chance. It doesn’t hurt that the director of the Avengers program, Paul Stark, has taken numerous teams to Steamboat to compete in Triple Crown tournaments. Stark and most of the coaches like Steamboat Springs so much that they can’t stay away.

“Several of us have come back each winter,” he said. “We use any excuse to get back out here for winter vacation, and at the next Triple Crown, I’d be willing to guess we’ll be back. We just love Steamboat and the people.”