By George Watson
After a long winter, the signs of spring can finally be seen in the mountains. The start of the Gilpin County Parks and Recreation Co-ed Adult Softball League season is a definite indication the warmer weather is here. Registration is open through May 12 with games beginning May 19.
For a reasonable fee, teams made up of friends, neighbors or co-workers, enjoy a fun and social way to get some summer exercise from mid-May to the annual Tonya Putnam Memorial Tourney in August. Orrin Snyder, who has managed the Gilpin County Co-ed Adult Softball League for six seasons, says there has been a long history of softball in the area.
“I think the league existed even before the new community center was built, and that was 11 years ago,” Snyder said. “One of the old timers told me they used to play in Ned, Gilpin and Idaho Springs, kind of like a traveling team. They knew other people who were playing and they would schedule impromptu games.”
These days, games take place at Weber and Elk fields at Pete Gones Memorial Park on Hwy. 46, across from the Justice Center and Gilpin County Fairgrounds, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Teams are required to have 10 players, including four outfielders instead of the traditional three. Larger teams, however, are encouraged. “It’s healthy to have a roster of at least 15 people because of vacations, injuries and what not,” Snyder said.
There are many different ways teams are formed, and members can be as young as 14. “These teams are usually made up of a group of friends that socialize together throughout the year, especially after our long winters and a little bit of cabin fever, they get excited to come outside and play,” Snyder said. “Usually, the camaraderie is why they play together, and like apré ski, there is a lot of socializing at local watering holes after [games].”
Young adults who played in school and seeking a way to continue playing the sport can be found on teams, too. “We also see some members of teams that might have been in baseball programs or on girls softball teams together, and age out of the programs. We take them as young as 14 with some restrictions of how and where they can play… and when they are 18 they can play with the adults.”
Interested individuals with no team can also get on board. “Free agents come to me and I send a list to all the managers. We’ve always struggled to get enough women involved, so women are almost guaranteed a spot.”
There is a registration fee of $500 per team for the entire season, which covers grooming of the fields and more. “It’s not a bad deal compared to what it costs down below. We usually get in about 14 games, so for a group of 10 who show up regularly, $500 it’s a pretty good value,” Snyder said.
Not many families come to spectate, but Snyder points out there is a “wonderful” playground for them to enjoy. “It’s hard to get the families down there because they are a little more rough and tumble. We really discourage foul language, but it’s near impossible,” he said. “But, there are playgrounds right there on the grounds, so for kid who’s parents are playing, it’s a great deal.”
The season culminates Aug. 1-2 with the Tonya Putnam Memorial Tournament, named after the league’s founder. Teams are seeded based on standings at the end of the regular season. Snyder said he tried to “mess” with the scheduling, but “caught some slack” and returned to traditional seeding like the NCAA basketball tournament.
Depending on available daylight, early games may be played prior to the weekend playoffs. “We plan it that way so we don’t have to come back the next weekend. At that point, people have had their fill of softball and are ready to do a little camping, fishing, biking and hiking.” he said.
If a full season is too much of a commitment, fundraising tournaments are planned through the summer. For $10 per player, people can come as a team or “free agent” and placed on a team. The first one takes place, May 9, when Gilpin County Youth Wrestling group hosts a tourney.
The Gilpin County Co-ed Adult Softball League is a great way to get outside while having fun with neighbors, co-workers and new friends; the exercise is a bonus. “Especially when the weather is nice,” Snyder said, “it’s just really a nice place to be on a summer evening, playing some ball.”
To register, call 303-582-1453 or stop in the Gilpin Community Center, 250 Norton Dr. For additional information, visit http://www.gilpinrecreation.com
Originally published in the May 2015 issue of the MMAC Monthly