A field of fond memories | VailDaily.com

A field of fond memories

Kelly Hagenah
Special to the Daily

GYPSUM – Thanks to a few big baseball fans, the Eagle Valley High School Devils’ baseball field has a fresh, new look for spring. “Theses guys need to be recognized,” said Debbie Peters, mom of Devils catcher, Tim, a senior. “What they did is too cool, it means a lot to the kids.’Over the week of spring break, several dedicated and hardworking dads got together to give the ball field a little spring cleaning.

Back in September 2002, plans to renovate the baseball field had just gone into works, when tragedy struck, and 16-year-old Eagle Valley High sophomore Skylar Hootman was killed in a car accident on homecoming night. Steve Whitehead, father of sophomore ball player Nick, said that the timing was just too emotional, and the project was put off. In the spring of 2004, the plans that had been made prior to Skylar’s death finally came together. With the help of the community, the Pete Nolan Baseball Field at Eagle Valley High School was officially dedicated to Skylar; and the renovation began. This spring, the project continued when the dads decided it was time again for another refurbishing. And, Whitehead said, “immediately, people were coming in on their own time.”

Together, Eddie Coulter, Steve Whitehead, Teep Blevins, Dave Scott, the baseball team, the coaching staff, and several other volunteers worked on the field as if it was in their own backyard. Then, “when Chris Spiegel (Skylar Hootman’s stepfather) got wind of the project, he brought out all of his equipment and crew to help,” Whitehead said. “The guy is really just top shelf.” Not only did they dig out and reconstruct baselines and build a warning track, but they also decided that while they were at it, they might as well reconstruct the entire fence that encloses the ballpark. “Now the baseball team really has a chance to hit a home-run,” said Coulter, whose son, Cody, plays on the high school junior varsity baseball team. The fencing now lining the field will be filled with advertisements for local businesses, as well as the dedication to Skylar, Whitehead said.

“We have all been committed to finishing the dedication to the kid,” Whitehead said. “Our whole community now considers the ball field a landmark for the Spiegel Family.”Along with the fence and baselines, two new foul lines with poles were also constructed, giving the ball park a much more professional look. “It looks much more like a real baseball field now,” Coulter said. “Steve Whitehead and Chris Spiegel have been amazing. This was kind of a community project, and they’ve just spearheaded everything. And the school was good enough to agree to let us.”

Permanent advertising spots on the new fence are being sold for $500. The signs will be 4 feet by 8 feet. Most of the proceeds will help finance the baseball field and the care of the field, but money will also go to Eagle Valley High School and the Eagle Valley Players Club. Vail, Colorado

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