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Growing up around baseball gave players solid footing in game

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For young athletes to succeed and advance in any sport, it takes athletic ability, desire and hard work.

Plus, the culture in which young athletes are brought up can have an impact on their chances to participate in a particular sport. Family connections and involvement in the sport gives young hopefuls a head start.

I used to read the sports sections of newspapers daily, cut out box scores and head outside to play games with a hard Gates rubber baseball or hit game-winning shots on my aunt’s driveway that had a basketball hoop.

My biggest problem, however, was the lack of enough athletic skills to be a force in the Denver Prep League.

That wasn’t the case for David Bote or Pierce Johnson, two former Faith Christian baseball players, who have made it to the big leagues.

Both players grew up around baseball.

Bote is now in the Chicago Cubs organization and Johnson is a middle reliever for the San Francisco Giants.

He is the son of longtime baseball mentor Bob Bote who has coached at Niwot, Erie, Faith Christian and Littleton and is now the head coach at Standley Lake.

Bob Bote won four Class 4A titles at Niwot and helped his son Danny guide Faith Christian to the 2011 title.

David Bote tagged along with his dad and brother Danny to Niwot practices and games.

He played for his brother and his dad during Faith Christian’s 2011 title season.

“Without a doubt your background helps,” said Bob Bote. “All my boys were always at the ballpark. They were hitting with the big boys and playing catch with the big boys. You could see the talent level rise.”

Pierce’s father Don Johnson was vice president of marketing for the San Diego Padres from 1992-1998 and it has been said that Pierce found his love for game in San Diego when he wasn’t roller blading down the ramps of Jack Murphy Stadium.

“Giants manager Bruce Bochy was actually the manager of the Padres then and he knew Pierce when he was 5 years old,” said Don Johnson.

David Bote, 25, was drafted by the Cubs in 2012 after a banner season at Neosho Community College (Kansas). He spent six years in the minors but finally made his major league debut on April 21 at Coors Field against the team he used to watch while growing up.

He doubled on his first at-bat in the major leagues in the Cubs’ 5-2 loss to the Rockies.

“It was very exciting,” said Bob Bote. “It was like a dream come true. We had no clue he was going to be called up. We didn’t have to go anyplace. We had 32 members of the family watching.”

David Bote, who played on the 2011 Faith Christian state champion team, was optioned to Iowa on April 28.

Johnson, 27, was a 2009 Faith Christian graduate and turned down signing with Tampa Bay to play at Missouri State. He was a first round draft pick of the Cubs in 2012. He made his major league debut with the Cubs on May 19, 2017 against Milwaukee with a one-inning stint that was actually delayed for nearly two hours because of rain.

On Sept. 20, 2017 he was claimed off waivers by Giants and has compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.40 earned run average in 19 innings pitched this season for San Francisco.

Johnson, like David Bote, is anxious for the chance to play against the Rockies.

“He looks forward to that,” said Don Johnson. “He’s followed the Rockies and Padres for years. It will be a challenge. The Rockies have such an All-Star lineup.”

Turnover at Golden

Golden has hired Lou Vullo as its new head boys basketball coach and named Rex Terry as the head girls basketball mentor as the overhaul of the basketball programs is finished.

John Anderson resigned as Golden’s boys coach in December. Erik Buehler took over as interim coach and led the Demons to a 21-4 record. Tim Hammond stepped down as girls coach, also in December, and Mike Osborne took over to help the 2017-18 team notch a 21-5 record.

Vullo is the former coach at The Pinnacle, where in nine seasons he compiled a 146-64 record.

Terry was the boys basketball coach at Sheridan where his teams were 30-38 in three seasons. He was previously the head girls coach at Alameda.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

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