WATERVILLE, Maine — An under-15 travel baseball team from the Boston suburb of Roxbury relished the opportunity to play a game at Colby College’s beautiful Coombs Field in Waterville Sunday afternoon.
The team is from BASE, a 5-year-old program that gives boys and girls ages 8-19 in the area an opportunity to develop as baseball and softball players, as well as students and young men and women.
The game didn’t go well as an older group of players from Sluggers, Brewer’s indoor baseball and soccer facility, handed them an 11-1 setback.
But the experience was still memorable and it continued Monday when the BASE players toured the Colby campus and met with the school’s coaches, students, admissions officers and faculty.
“It was a cool experience,” said Joey Hosea, a pitcher and outfielder from Dorchester, Massachusetts. “It’s always cool to play in front of college coaches and to play on a college field. This field was awesome. On some turf fields, the mound gets crazy. But this one was good.”
“I loved the field. I had never played at a university before. I’m pretty sure nobody else (on our team) had played on a college field, either. It was very big. I’m not used to playing on this kind of field,” said Marcos Feliz, a shortstop, third baseman and pitcher from Roslindale.
“It was a great experience,” he added.
Center fielder and catcher Andres Pinto, who is also from Roslindale, said it was “amazing.”
“I love this field. I love the atmosphere,” he said. “It was a tough loss, but it’s baseball. I love baseball, and when I’m out there, I’m having fun.”
Head coach Germaine Sattiewhite said it was good for his team to get a chance to see what it’s like at the next level.
“It’s nice to get them somewhere outside the city. It’s good for them to take trips like this,” he said. “They get to see something other than tall buildings. They get to smell the trees.”
The idea to have a BASE team come to Colby was the brainchild of Bev Madden, a 1980 Colby graduate who lives in Massachusetts and is BASE’s chief development and marketing officer.
“For me, these are two things I absolutely love: The BASE and Colby,” said Madden, a Michigan native. “It was evident that this could be a partnership that was mutually beneficial. It had tremendous potential for both organizations. So I made the introduction and the two organizations made it happen.”
“The partnership came about when Bev brought the BASE to the attention of our admissions department, and sought out a partnership between the two based on our academic program, our admissions profile, trying to get more students here from around the country, and letting them know about our Colby commitment and our desire to help talented students find their way to Colby,” said Laura Meader, associate director of communications at Colby.
Meader added that BASE was on Colby’s radar “because we’re aware of the good work they’re doing in helping prep their kids for college,” and that Colby is included on the BASE radar so that “when they’re recommending schools for students or providing resources from different colleges for them to look at, they include Colby in the profile.”
Madden said Colby is the first New England Small College Athletic Conference school to partner with them as well as the first school in the state of Maine.
The game and the campus tour supplies the BASE players “with a great opportunity to expose our student-athletes to a liberal arts school, a different model, a smaller school than probably a lot of them are familiar with. And, for Colby, it gives them a great opportunity to reach into some other communities they might not otherwise have easily reached in to,” Madden said.
“So it’s a great partnership,” she added.
“It’s all about making sure the most talented students out there, regardless of their backgrounds or what school they go to or their geographic area, are aware of Colby and have the tools they need to feel confident to apply here,” Meader said. “A lot of students don’t feel like they’re good enough to come to Colby or it’s too expensive to come here, whatever.
“This helps level that playing field and lets them know how to apply, that they can apply and we want them to apply,” she added.
Robert Lewis Jr. founded the BASE program five years ago after starting the Boston Astros baseball program 40 years ago.
The Boston Astros promoted values such as determination, resilience and love to bond multiethnic areas while also celebrating cultures and baseball.
The BASE program was designed to provide urban youth and minorities with the values, tools and resources to improve their graduation and employment rates.
Its facility in Roxbury has rooms for studying and three batting cages.
“We have to do 30 minutes of homework before we can use the batting cages,” Feliz said.
They have coaches, teachers and academic advisors at their disposal, and everything is free.
The BASE has teams of all age groups between 8-19. Its under-18 team has won three Triple Crown national championships in six years. Some teams do extensive traveling and others just play locally.
“It’s a great program. It cares about everything, not just baseball,” Hosea said. “You not only become a better person off the field, it gives you role models to look up to even within the organization.”
“It is definitely a lot of fun. I’m with a lot of close friends I grew up with, and we have grown from boys into men,” Pinto said.
Students who don’t play baseball or softball are also welcome.
There are 1,500 student-athletes affiliated with BASE including 250 girls and eight players have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.
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