Can the Skiers prevail in this year’s pageantry of mascots? |

Can the Skiers prevail in this year’s pageantry of mascots?

Luke FarrellSpecial to The Aspen Times

There may be 20,000 leagues under the sea that concern the likes of Captain Nemo, but there’s only one league in Colorado that concerns the Aspen High baseball team, and that’s the Class 3A Western Slope League. Unfortunately, one cannot find reprieve in the absence of killer whales and bloodthirsty squids. In the Western Slope League, there are other formidable life forms to contend with. Take for instance the Bruins of Cedaredge and the Cowboys of Gunnison. Or how about the Roaring Fork Rams and the Basalt Longhorns? Perhaps the most intimidating of all: the Olathe Pirates and the Hotchkiss Bulldogs. At any rate, all are fearsome in their own right. And why shouldn’t they be? After all, mascots are created to instill great spirit in the home team. They bring good luck, working their respective magic to bring about a desired outcome. Mascots are meant to be intimidating.So what kind of an advantage does the ‘Skier’ provide the Aspen baseball team?”Absolutely none,” joked coach Rick Ryan. “I mean, seriously, come on. The Skiers? It’s like the ‘Detroit Cars’ or the ‘Philadelphia Cheese Steaks.’ The real problem is the image it summons: a person dressed up in goggles and a one-piece, running up and down our sidelines flailing their ski poles. It’s just disturbing.”At best, comedic. Which is what sets Aspen apart from the rest: their originality. Let’s face it, the other league mascots have been invoked a thousand times over by college and professional sports teams around the world. To cite a few examples: the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Longhorns, the Pittsburg Pirates, the Georgia Bulldogs, the St. Louis Rams, the Boston Bruins, etc., etc. The list goes on. But the Skiers? Now there’s a name that escapes the boundaries of cliché. You won’t find anyone under that guise roaming the playing fields of high school, college, or professional sports.”Some schools need dressed up animals to run around and do ridiculous things to get the crowd fired up,” suggested Ryan. “We don’t need a dude in a cougar costume stealing the ball from an official and missing a layup to get us pumped. Our fans and players arrive fired up.”Maybe that’s because the Aspen ballplayers are their own good luck charms. They are, in fact, their own mascot. Take for instance senior Matt Fox and sophomore Steven Buzbee, who were pertinent members of this year’s state championship ski team. Replace “Skiers” with the plural form of any of the players’ last names, and you’ve got the true spelling of team spirit. Don’t get me wrong, the other teams on the Western Slope may have similarities with their namesake (such as number of teeth if you’re a pirate, or drooling habits if you’re a bulldog), but they are not synonymous. At least, that’s the hope.”It’s not like I have ever seen a Pirate on Main Street in Olathe,” confirmed Ryan.So then what, you might ask, does it all mean?It means that, when it comes to league play, the Aspen High baseball team is forced to create their own magic. Which is exactly what it did Tuesday against Cedaredge, in their first league match of the season.Skier Matt Fox dominated on the mound from the get go, giving up only six hits and one run to a team that had beat Aspen 12-4 in the first tourney of the year. He tallied six strikeouts on the day and earned his third win of the season.At the plate, the Skiers were unstoppable, hitting 17 base-hits and crossing home plate 15 times. Senior catcher Brock Strasbourger led Aspen with four hits, including a pair of doubles and five RBIs. David Porter, ’05, proved a threat at the plate as well, going 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs. Skiers Matt Fox and Steven Buzbee both hit 2-for-3 and scored twice. The final score: 15-2.”We are getting more confident and more comfortable with each day,” explained Ryan. “After you play several games and you start getting consistent with your lineups, you find your groove as a team. Repetition builds consistency, and consistency builds confidence. This is a quality win, but baseball is a crazy game. If we think because we won a game we are something special, we are doomed.”Which raises the question: Will the lowly Skiers prevail in the powerful pageantry of mascots that make up the Western Slope?We’ll all just have to wait and see. They sure are off to a good start, though. Just ask the Bruins.Aspen’s next league games are in Gunnison – against the Cowboys – on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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