Their season may have come to an unceremonious and devastating end, but the Sterling High School Rangers baseball team would not let its seniors exit without an amazing stage left.
On Sunday, the Rangers program, lead by head coach Adam Shibley, arranged a senior parade that stopped by the homes of seven senior baseball players and one student trainer and manager each to say goodbye in grand style.
Sterling was 10-3 and a District 21-6A favorite when the COVID-19 pandemic effectively ended the spring sports campaign.
“This day was one of the most special days of my career,” Shibley said. “I understand that unfortunate circumstances led us to the measures we took today to honor our seniors and given the opportunity we would’ve chosen to do it differently, but sometimes the most unforeseen circumstances lead to some of the most incredibly selfless outpourings of love.
“I just wanted to do something that made sure our seniors understood that just because their senior year was cut short, that their legacy and impact will be just as powerful as it would’ve been had we gone as deep into the playoffs as we believe we were capable of going.”
Coaches, families, teammates, friends and the like all gathered at Sterling High School before setting out to visit nine homes.
“The things we do in our program are so much bigger than baseball, and this was our way of reminding them that no matter what happens: We love them and we have formed a bond that will never be broken,” Shibley said. “We use baseball to make winning young men, we don’t use young men to win baseball. That’s our motto, and we hope all of our players take that from us when they leave our program.
“These seniors are special, and they have forever changed the culture of RSS Baseball.”
The seniors include players Steven Montemayor Jr., Gentry Busch, Matthew Lopez, Julian Trujillo, Chris Roth, Blake Russell, Jesse Garza, trainer Jordan Garrison and manager Brooke Coffey.
“It was an awesome feeling seeing all my teammates and all my coaches go out of their way to come see all the seniors,” Lopez said. “Seeing everyone made my day: I had a smile from ear to ear. I’m grateful to call everyone on my baseball team my family and I will cherish the memories I made with them for the rest of my life.”
Russell acknowledged he had no idea this was coming.
“Since we weren’t able to celebrate our seniors the traditional way on our field, they found an amazing alternative to be able to celebrate and congratulate us,” Russell said. “Everyone involved did a good job of keeping the little parade a secret because I was completely clueless of what was happening at the time. I can’t thank my coaches, teammates, and the parents enough for what they all did.”
Roth was hanging outside with his family as is his custom when the Rangers rolled up on his house and gave him his shock of the weekend.
“I noticed a truck turn into the street with signs everywhere,” Roth said. “At first I was just like ‘oh it’s from advertisements’ or whatever. Then I see how quiet my family got and they all pulled out their phones. That’s when I knew my surprise was bound to happen.
“Seeing like 20-plus vehicles come down to my house to cheer and honk and hold up signs saying ‘congrats’ was truly amazing. It’s hard to say exactly how I felt other than I haven’t smiled that big in months.”
Roth felt that a “thank you” from him was needed but couldn’t do the event justice.
“As my family started to cry, I was holding back tears myself,” Roth said. “Greeting my coaches for what could be my last time as their player is hard but I’m glad it happened like it did. Seeing the support from the under classmen was actually insane. I don’t even know their names and they came out to support too.”