Softball brings home first 4A state championship for Holy Family

Drawing inspiration from Mother Teresa’s example of doing small things with great love, the Holy Family softball team carried an unwavering passion in their efforts this season.

“No matter what we do, we’re going to do it with great love,” said junior Noelle Gardon.

Head Coach Mitchell Martinez motivated his team before games using the saint’s famous motto.

“We would go into the huddle and Mitch would be like, ‘What kind of love?’ We’d all go, ‘Great love!’” said senior Erin Winters.

The Holy Family softball girls, who won state this past season, huddle up during a game.

That love for their sport led the team to the state championship game this past season, where they defeated Mountain View High School 10-3.

“It was so surreal,” said Winters. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

The team made history for Holy Family, bringing home the first 4A state title since the school moved up to the division a few years ago.

“Our goal was never to win state,” said senior Sara Rode. “Our goal every year is just to get to state. We took it a game at a time, and soon enough we were in the championship game.”

The team’s vision for their season was simple, said junior Anna Martinez.

“No one ever really thought about losing,” she said. “It was one game at a time. We were just playing.”

Junior Anna Martinez bats for the Tigers.

The team prayed before games and after practices and attended Mass together during their season. That foundation of faith helped them realize “the bigger picture,” said Gardon. “We know that there’s more [to life] than this one game or this one season.”

Gardon added that sometimes faith plays a subtler role in a season.

“It’s definitely something you can look back on after and think about where it helped you or where you needed more of it in a game,” she said.

Gardon, Martinez, Rode and Winters all attended Catholic grade schools, and although they sometimes played on opposing teams growing up, they’ve enjoyed coming together to represent Holy Family.

“It’s better because we know that we’re not playing for ourselves,” said Rode. “We’re playing for everyone around us.”

Gardon agreed.

“Having a bond with everyone — you believe in everyone,” she said. “There’s trust everywhere. If someone’s having a bad day, you know that you have other people behind you and someone’s going to pick you up.”

Senior Sara Rode plays second base for the Tigers.

Looking back at their season, it’s the memories both on and off the field the girls will cherish moving forward.

“If I could go back and replay this season, 100 times out of 100 times I would,” said Winters.

The team remembers the state final like they remember much of their regular season games — a tough battle until the end.

“We were up 3-0, and they came and hit two home runs and tied it,” said Rode. “None of us broke. We came back and scored seven runs.”

The girls are proud of what they accomplished for their school.

“Everything just fell into place and it felt right,” said Gardon. “It felt like we had all the tools, and we worked so hard and did everything in our capability.

“We knew our goal and we did what we knew we needed to do to achieve it,” she said.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.