When the Farmington Frackers take the field at Ricketts Park this summer for their inaugural season in the Collegiate Baseball League they won't just bring high-quality baseball, they could also provide a boost to the local economy.
California native is now a graduate assistant for Lobos
FARMINGTON — The Farmington Frackers baseball team got the coach it wanted when the team named Jared Holley as its leader for its inaugural season.
Holley, a native of Chatsworth, Calif., played four seasons for the University of New Mexico — starting 179 games, primarily at shortstop, during his career — and currently serves as a graduate assistant on the Lobos' coaching staff.
Steve Avila, a partner in bringing the team to Farmington, said that after watching Holley play the last few seasons at UNM and having conversations with the UNM coaching staff about Holley, it was clear Holley was the top choice for the Frackers.
"He's been our choice for a long time, it was just that we couldn't make it official until everything else with the city and the league was taken care of," Avila said.
The decision for Holley to take on the coaching role was a no-brainer. He's working toward a master's degree at UNM in sports administration, and he'll bring a wealth of knowledge about baseball and the grind of playing on a day-to-day basis after playing the last few summers in the West Coast League, a collegiate league with teams in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada.
"It's going to be a positive for me, and it's going to be a positive for all of the players. They're going to have an outlet to talk to. For the last four years, I was exactly where they were," Holley said. "If they have any questions, they can come to me, and I'll be able to answer probably all of their answers because I've been almost exactly where they're at."
While Holley's ability to relate to his players will be a positive for the team, he doesn’t have much experience as a coach. However, Avila said there aren't any concerns about how well Holley will handle and lead the roster.
"He's a leader. I believe he'll be able to communicate with the players and share his experiences with playing in summer collegiate ball," Avila said. "This is the closest thing to playing minor-league ball, and that's where these guys on the roster want to be. Jared understands that. We're very fortunate to get Jared."
The other two members of the Frackers' coaching staff have not been named. Avila said the team hopes to announce the other two coaches in the next couple of weeks.
The players on the Frackers' roster will come from colleges around the western states. A lot of them will be familiar with one another from playing against each other, and building team chemistry between players who are used to being opponents could be a challenge, but Holley doesn't think it will be an issue.
"At least from all of my experience, baseball brings everyone together," he said. "You can get out on the field, and it's like playing sandlot when you're a little kid. You might be used to playing against someone in little league, but when the time comes, you're going to go out and play together and be great teammates. When you're all fighting for the same goal, it's really easy to build that team chemistry."
Along with providing a high-quality product on the field, one of the Frackers' goals this season is to cement Farmington as the best amateur baseball town in America. For several seasons, the Madison Mallards in Wisconsin have had the highest attendance for collegiate league teams, averaging around 6,000 fans for home games. Holley and Avila said they think Farmington's fans can rival that number in Ricketts Park, which has a capacity of a little more than 6,100.
"They average 6,039 fans a night. And I know they've had nights of over 10,000," Avila said of Madison. "The great history (of Farmington), I believe, is it's the best amateur baseball community in North America. Williamsport, Pennsylvania, might have something to say about that, but Williamsport is a different venue. The Connie Mack World Series has been sold out for so many years, and we want to continue and build on that legacy with the Frackers. We want to make a run at 6,040 (fans a night), and I think we can do it."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.