Valley loses ‘great role model’

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Nick Alcorta was well known in the midvalley for tirelessly giving his time to teach baseball to kids. Saturday he died in Las Vegas playing the game he loved.

Alcorta suffered a heart attack while on the field playing in a baseball game, according to family and friends. He was 39 years old. The Las Vegas coroner’s office wouldn’t comment Sunday on the official cause of death, citing department policy.

News of Alcorta’s death hit student-athletes and their parents hard in Basalt Saturday night and Sunday. Many people, including his wife, Debbie, learned of the tragic death when they got home Saturday evening from Fort Collins after watching the Basalt High School girls basketball team play in the state tournament.

“It was devastating,” Basalt High senior Jake Rankin said of Alcorta’s death. “I look at him as a best friend almost.”

Alcorta was head coach of the Basalt High baseball team during Rankin’s freshman, sophomore and junior years. Although Alcorta wasn’t the head coach this year, he still volunteered to help Rankin and other team members sharpen their skills.

Alcorta helped hundreds of midvalley kids in sports when he was the recreation director for the town of Basalt from 1997 through 2002. He coached Little League and helped with baseball programs for older kids. He also helped with youth basketball programs in the midvalley and formerly served for several years as an assistant coach of the Basalt High girls basketball program while Debbie was the coach.

“Words really can’t say what Nick meant to the kids in this valley,” said Leroy Duroux, a leader of the Basalt Booster Club. “He touched a lot of kids’ lives in the time he was here.”

Memorial service Thursday

Alcorta got a rare chance in 2002 to see how people really appreciated him. When he was laid off by the town because of a budget crunch, numerous parents protested the decision at Town Hall and expressed their admiration for everything he did for kids.

Despite his layoff, he kept volunteering time for kids. “He said, ‘It’s all about the kids, and we want to keep it going,'” said Dorothy Howard, who worked with Alcorta in the recreation department.

Several youth basketball tournaments were scheduled to be held in Basalt yesterday. Most games were canceled but the fifth- and sixth-grade boys tournament was held at the request of Debbie Alcorta. She passed on word that Nick would want to see the games continue, Howard said. The players and parents held a moment of silence and said a prayer in honor of Alcorta.

A memorial service will be held at the Basalt High baseball field at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 18. The family is asking that people wear their baseball hats and Hawaiian shirts in Nick’s honor.

Besides his wife, Alcorta leaves their two boys, Dominick, 8, and Derek, 5. The boys meant everything to him, said friend Tony Thompson. Nick was happiest when it was “he and his boys on the baseball field.”

But Thompson noted that Alcorta’s generosity extended to everyone. “He’d do anything for anybody, anywhere,” Thompson said.

Travis Whitmire, a sophomore at Basalt High, said Alcorta was supportive of kids and their athletic ‘Great role model’.