JUCO Q&A: The Community

There’s no denying the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series is a part of the community.

Its efforts and projects are sprinkled throughout the Grand Valley. Some of the community projects include Canyon View Park, Mesa State College’s baseball clubhouse, the Grand Mesa Little League scoreboard, Monument Little League’s dugouts and contributions to all four District 51 high school baseball programs.

During the week of the tournament, the JUCO Committee reaches out to those who love baseball, but might not have the means to make it to a game.

The committee gives several groups free tickets, including Home Care of Grand Valley, Ariel Clinical Services and the Residence at Grand Mesa.

Windy Aitken is the activities director at the Residence at Grand Mesa and has been taking senior citizens to a tournament game for the past seven years.

“We take them out into the fresh air and it brings back a lot of memories for them,” Aitken said. “It’s not only when they took their families to JUCO, but when they played ball or their kids played ball.

“We really look forward to it every year.”

Aitken said being able to get back into the community, even if only for one night, is important for the group she brings.

“They love going to JUCO,” Aitken said. “It integrates them into the community and they aren’t so isolated.”

Aitken said she takes about seven residents to a night game to avoid sun exposure. The residents range in age from 65 to 90.

They usually go to the Thursday game to catch some of the better teams in the tournament.

“We had such a fun time that first year,” Aitken said. “It’s been great to take people every year, and we really appreciate the JUCO Committee doing that for us.”

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Q: How much money is pumped into the local economy by the tournament?
A: Jennifer Grossheim Harris of the Grand Junction Visitor Convention and Bureau said her office figures the teams spend a combined $250,000 during the first five days of their stay and about $75,000 from Tuesday through the end of the tournament. The VCB estimates about 60 people are in the traveling party, including players, coaches, administrators, family and friends, per team. Each person spends roughly $85 per day on food, gas and hotel. The VCB doesn’t have estimates on people coming to Grand Junction for one day, but Grossheim Harris said she’s comfortable saying $500,000 to $1 million is spent in Grand Junction during the tournament.

Q: Does the tournament itself turn a profit? Where does money go?
A: JUCO is a non-profit organization. The NJCAA gets 50 percent of ticket sales for allowing Grand Junction to host the tournament. All other revenues, including sponsorship money, go to operations and now the $7.3 million bond debt for the new construction, Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton said.

Q: How do I get my non-profit involved?
A: JUCO sets aside the 3 p.m. game on Thursday for non-profit organizations when they can set up a booth. “It’s a way for JUCO to involve some non-profits and let them get exposure during the tournament,” said Lee Young, head of the host committee

Q: How can I sign up to volunteer to clean up?
A: City of Grand Junction Sports Facilities Supervisor Eddie Mort coordinates volunteer groups to help clean up the major trash after the last game of each day of the tournament. There is also a group to coordinate recycling after each day. If anyone is interested, contact Mort at 254-3873 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Q: How are the JUCO scholarship winners picked?
A: The JUCO scholarship, sponsored by Alpine Bank, is awarded to four District 51 baseball players and a player from Mesa State College.
“The first criteria is that the player must have had a solid productive senior season on the field as a player. The second consideration is that he must have good character, be a good student, and be a good student leader for our team. I have been very fortunate to have some great kids in my time here, and it’s always a challenge to pick just one,” Fruita Monument coach Ray McLennan said.

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