By Sam Conner–
The Dawgs (Discipline, Attitude, Will, Genuine, Scholar) traveling baseball team recently won the 14 and under AA USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) Fall Arizona State Championship.
The team includes Rey Velez, C.J. Chacon, Kuster Kinleecheenie, Matthew Ramos and Brandon Sedillo, all of Winslow, Julian Garcia of Holbrook, and Taran Sarnowski, Tristan Stockman, Ruben Estrada, Austin Gibson and David Evans, all of Payson.
Winslow resident Nate Velez has been coaching some of these boys since they were 6 and playing tee ball. They are now 14. Also coaching the Dawgs are Joe Monsegur and Noah Sarnowski.
The program has a Character Counts program within it to teach the kids life lessons by assigning them homework and having group discussions. “We hold our kids to a higher standard than most programs,” said Coach Velez. “The program is set up to teach the kids about life, through the game of baseball.”
The Dawgs played their first tournament this year in Las Vegas, Nev., and placed third. They were the only team from Arizona in the tournament. On Sept. 18 and 19, they played in the Big League Dreams Tournament at Glendale and won a silver medal with a second place finish. On Oct. 1 and 2 they won the Fall State Championship, and are currently ranked first in Arizona and 50th among 540 teams nationally.
Since winning the state championship, they have been moved up a division to AAA, and also qualified for the 2012 World Series in Chino Hills, Calif.
The squad is seeking fundraising opportunities and/or donations to help fund the trip to the USSSA World Series in July 2012. For more information on the Dawgs, go online to www.azteamdawgs.info.
Velez has also been selected as a coach for the Arizona National Team called the Stars and Stripes with Kelly Stinnet, a retired major league player. He will be leading an Arizona All Star team to Orlando, Fla., during the Christmas break and will also be leading a national team to Nicaragua in July.
Photo courtesy of the Dawgs
The Dawgs, AA United States Specialty Sports Association Fall Arizona State Champions, include (front row, left to right) CJ Chacon, Tristan Stockman, (middle row) Julian Garcia, David Evans, Rey Velez, Ruben Estrada, Matthew Ramos, Austin Gibson, Taran Sarnowski, Kuster Kinlecheenie, (back row) Coaches Nate Velez, Joe Monsegur and Noah Sarnowski.