Playing the 2017 Goddard Rockets baseball team seemed almost unfair to their opponents, even the teams up north. The team consisted of a who’s who of talent. Many of the Rockets are going to continue their baseball careers in college, and some may be good enough to play professional. The Rockets sole purpose last season was to win the Blue Trophy after three unsuccessful attempts. Mission complete after they dismantled Albuquerque Academy 10-3.
The team consisted of major talent in Ethan Coombes, Luke Fink, Cole Wentland, Cal Villareal and Justin Miller. On Wednesday, another key player from that championship team signed to continue his baseball career. Tyler Hardwick Jr. will play for NMMI. On Tuesday night another teammate, Cameron Stevenson signed with the University of New Mexico Lobos.
“Anytime you see one of your kids sign with a college it’s a special moment,” former Goddard coach Alan Edmonson said. “You don’t find a kid that works as hard as Cameron (Stevenson) does. His family is a great family, and they have pushed him to excel and have supported him through every endeavor Cameron’s taken on in the game of baseball, and it’s paid off for him.”
While being recruited, Stevenson’s focus stayed on the season and his play during the summer. Last season, Stevenson hit .402 with 12 doubles, four triples, one home run and 28 RBIs while playing a demanding position, shortstop. Going into his senior season his goal is to steal 30-35 bases and continue to hit for power.
“I’m really proud of Cameron,” Edmonson said, “he stayed patient through the recruiting process.” “He kept doing what he did and kept working hard, and it paid off for him.”
Edmonson used to tell Stevenson that as a coach, sometimes he would want to stop and be a spectator and not a coach. Edmonson recounted a story about when Stevenson hit a baseball that seemed like it was two or three inches off the plate with two strikes. He hit it and two hopped the fence, using his speed he ended up on third base.
“He has that kind of power, and he’s a great player,” Edmonson said. “UNM got what I call the steal of the draft. I tell you right now, with Cameron, athleticism is second to none if you ask me. There’s not too many guys who can run like him and hit for power, he can do everything.”
During a game this summer, with Lobos Coach Ray Birmingham in attendance, Stevenson hit a ball to the right-field wall and ended up standing on third base. It was a play that stuck in Birmingham’s mind as he watched and recruited him.
“By the time he’s a junior in college,” Edmonson said, “there are going to be a lot of colleges saying we missed out on him. The thing with him and a lot of Goddard players is they don’t go halfway; they go full speed and don’t know the meaning of the word quit.”
His parents Alan and Rita Stevenson are proud of him for achieving his dream of continuing his baseball career with the chance to get an education. Raising five kids (Jorge Ray Alvidrez, Michael Shane Mendoza, Gerina Michelle Piller, Kristen Faith Stevenson, Cameron Stevenson) both parents tried to instill a sense of dedication, hard work and commitment to achieve a goal.
“We’re happy for him,” Stevenson said. “As a family, we’re very thankful. We know these opportunities don’t go to everyone. It takes a lot of hard work to get noticed as a student athlete in high school. We’re very happy for him. It’s one of his goals we talked about with him as a young boy. It’s exciting for us.”
Stevenson was attracted to play for the Lobos program, which has a history of success with student athletes from New Mexico. They played a top-notch competition teams like LSU, Texas Tech, Florida State, Oklahoma States, Arizona and Arizona State. Plus, Birmingham is a Hall of Fame coach.
“Cameron is a great athlete,” Birmingham said. “He’s a winner and he’s from New Mexico. If I compared him to any player whom I have had, he reminds me of Mitch Garver. Not necessarily in the same skill set, but he’s a great athlete. Garver was a walk-on that I invited to try out because I saw something in him, and he turned into a big leaguer.”
Stevenson’s parents share in their kid’s dreams by giving them opportunities in their chosen sports. They have traveled with him during the summer as he has played baseball on a traveling team.
“We’ve talked to Cameron,” Alan Stevenson said. “We told him if this is what you want to do, we are going to do our best for you to have a chance to succeed. If your hearts not in it, then we are not going to waste our time. We’ll find something else you want to do. However, if this is what you want to do, then we’ll support that and put the effort in order to go do that.”
Alan Stevenson shares so much of his life in his children’s lives, whether it’s sports or something else. That’s a lesson he learned from his father, Wayne. Wayne Stevenson didn’t play sports, he was just a hard worker that built homes for a living. His hard work afforded Alan and his brother Scott the opportunity to do other things growing up.
“It matters and it’s important,” Alan Stevenson said, “that if your kids are interested in something that you participate in it.”
Alan Stevenson remembers that his daughter, Gerina Piller and Cameron both wanted to win in everything they did. He thought back to when Cameron was a little kid, how he hated to lose in anything and would race brushing his teeth. The Stevenson family motto has been “That it was important for his kids to focus on what they did best and attempted to be great at it instead of being good at a bunch of things.”
“Cameron’s character is off the charts,” Birmingham said. “His athleticism is off the charts and let’s learn to play baseball at a really high level, and he could possibly play in the big leagues someday, if he stays the course. Goddard High School has always had athletes, and I want New Mexico guys.”