The long-standing Telluride Baseball Camp tradition came to an end seven years ago, but Dyer – now head baseball coach for the 2010 Arizona State Champion Saguaro High School team – has returned to rekindle his Telluride baseball flame.
The Telluride Baseball Festival, now in its second official year, took to the Town Park and Down Valley ball fields last week. The two-week baseball blitz, which includes daily instruction from world-class coaches as well as non-baseball activities like fishing derbies and mountain bike outings, culminates this weekend with a baseball tournament featuring the USA Select team and other visiting squads.
“As a 13-year-old kid, this was my favorite place. I started [the Telluride Baseball Festival] so that kids could have the same experiences I did going to camp here,” Dyer says.
Nearly 70 kids from around the country have attended this year’s festival, including 25 local players. Also in attendance is a beefy coaching roster, highlighted by former Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves scouting director Don Mitchell, ex-pro player Dallas Strankman, Scottsdale Community College assistant baseball coach Tim Haubursin, and members of Saguaro High School coaching staff Joe Muecke and George Adams.
While its coaching lineup may be formidable, Dyer says that the Baseball Festival’s focus isn’t solely to improve players’ skills – although that’s a valuable element of the two-week camp. “It’s about promoting the love of the game, and inspiring kids to want to play,” he says. “We want the focus to be fun. We want these kids waking up and wanting to go to baseball camp.”
The Telluride Baseball Festival’s camp non-baseball activities of fishing, mountain biking and hiking further introduce visiting players to summertime in Telluride. It’s the experience of exploring the mountains as well as competing on the baseball diamond with a slew of new friends that got Dyer hooked on Telluride in the first place – the same experience he hopes to impart upon this new generation of Telluride Baseball Festival attendees.
“We really want to continue this event, helping build baseball in the region while giving Telluride the opportunity to host world-class coaching,” Dyer says.
For local baseball player Jaden Evans, 9, the Telluride Baseball Festival has been an “awesome” way to spend a few weeks of summer vacation. “All the coaches are great, and it’s really fun,” he says.
Fellow player Zak Hild, 12, has been playing baseball in Telluride his entire life, and following the completion of the Telluride Baseball Festival this week he will join the USA Select baseball team as it travels to the Dominican Republic for the organization’s annual tournament there. (USA Select Baseball is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designed to promote the development of youth/amateur baseball players around the world, of which Dyer is the executive director.)
Hild is excited to experience baseball in another country. “They live for baseball, and a lot of world-class players come from there,” he says.
Telluride may not quite be the epicenter of baseball culture as the Dominican Republic (it’s been many years since the high school has fielded a baseball team,) but this weekend the sport will take center stage. Teams from around the region, including Vail, Palisade, and Montrose, will join the USA Select Team for a round-robin tournament at the Down Valley Park on Friday and Saturday, culminating with the championship games at the Town Park diamonds on Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m. The weekend’s festivities will begin today with a Home Run Derby at Town Park; spectators are welcome.
Visit www.telluridebaseballfestival.com for more information.