Here is a post from last year's JUCO tournament. Clink this Link: JUCO 2007
When these kinds of buses roll into Grand Junction every year for JUCO, it's hard to imagine how many stories they bring to us from all over the United States.
As I mentioned yesterday on the post below, the Connor's team from Oklahoma was my pick...but, the Cowboys were eliminated. Even though I lived in Oklahoma most of my life, I was born in Texas, so I quickly latched on to this team: Alvin Community College. The Grand Junction Lions' Club is the sponsor of this team, so that was another reason to root for them. (Someone who lives under this roof is a GJ Lion. Besides, I was the self-appointed, unofficial photographer for the Dolphins.)
As I mentioned earlier, there are many stories associated with the young men who have all worked hard to get to this World Series, and this year is no exception...
Left to right: Nanny, Mom, Brett, Nanny Bear
I'm not sure how many players at JUCO can boast that four (4), yes count them F.O.U.R. generations of his family have ever been represented at this World Series Tournament. Brett Kinsel, #6, Alvin Community College's relief pitcher is one of them.
During Shauna's pregnancy with Brett, she spent the better part of that nine months watching softball. She swore she would never sit at a ball field again. When Brett was six months old, a baseball magically appeared at their house, and he began pushing it across the floor with his face. When she would tuck him in at night, it wasn't with a teddy bear. It was with that baseball, and usually by morning, she would also find a bat in his bed. Later, after someone gave him a pair of cleats, it wasn't unusual to find those on him, too. Shauna adds, "His first sentence was PLAY BALL BRETT, PLAY BALL." She and his dad, Mark, started him in a parent-tot league at the age of three. Most of the kids at that age needed their parents on the field with them. Shauna and Mark sat in the stands. Brett had a natural talent and an unusual love for the game. A love that poured out onto the rest of the family. When Brett plays, there is an entourage that follows him.
Betty (Mi-Mi) and Jerry (Huney) Kinsel are two of Brett's grandparents who made the trip from Baytown, Texas, to Grand Junction to watch their grandson play. Mi-Mi smiles as she tells me that everyone in the family has been watching Brett PLAY BALL since he was three years old and continue to enjoy the games and support his love of baseball.
His dad, Mark, coached him until high school. Since then, he has watched quietly from the fence, hating not being on the field with him. Even though the fans in this photo are unidentifiable, for some reason, there is a person dressed in "Alvin Red" who stands out among the crowd. Mark says that they have had a blast chasing him from town to town. He married Shauna on March 16, 1990 when Brett was about three months old.
Mark and Shauna both have served on the board of their local little league for four years.
They laugh together and use the 'ole line, "Baseball is our life...it's been berry berry good to me."
Betty (Nanny) and Archie (Pap-Paw) made the trip to Grand Junction from Onalaska, Texas. Nanny kept Brett when he was younger and shares this bit of information about Brett, "He always had two plans for every day:
Mom says that Brett was the first grandchild on this side of the family, so to say that he was a little spoiled would be and understatement.
Then, there is this fan of Brett's, Nanny Bear ! She made it clear that she was old enough to have five generations. She is the Mother of eight, Grandmother of nineteen, Great Grandmother of twenty-seven, Great-Great Grandmother of four with one more due in September. Brett would tell you that she is amazing and share the story that five years ago she helped him build a deer stand on the back side of her land. That's the year he shot his first deer. They both share a love of the outdoors. She hunts, has her own four-wheeler that she loads into the truck, and takes it to the deer lease. Nanny Bear still loves to fish. She enjoys all sports and can even still swing a bat. She would tell you that Brett's love to PLAY BALL comes from her. She played ball for years as a first baseman and explains that if she could find a senior's team in her area she would still play. She loves to watch Monday night football. I wish I had thought to ask her who her favorite team is.
"She is our HERO and I can only pray that when I'm old enough to have five generations, I still get around like she does. I'm not sure that I get around as good as she does now," Shauna tells me.
Nanny Bear was thrilled to be here in Grand Junction even though she was certain that the people at the Friendship Center are really missing her. No doubt they are. She cooks for them.
This wonderful lady is very proud of all her grandkids, especially the ones who enjoy the same things she does.
Her youngest grandson, David, is a Marine stationed in Iraq. This trip to the JUCO World Series was a good distraction to keep her from worrying about him.
In a day and time when our youngsters need real heroes, I wasn't surprised to see these two sticking very close to Brett as they watched. It also wasn't surprising to notice that his exictement was contagious as he encouraged his teammates during the entire game.
Even though the outcome of this game didn't end in favor of the Dolphins, these four generations had smiles for all the cameras.
All the ladies representing their three generations sported black t-shirts embellished with Swarovski crystals denoting who their favorite baseball player is.
After one of the games this week, Brett was quoted as saying, "This is the only team I've been on that never gives up. We keep battling until it's over."
I don't think any of us have to wonder where he learned that philosophy and who has passed it on to all of her children, and their children, and their children, and their children...
PLAY BALL, BRETT, PLAY BALL !