Making the call: Cutthroat earns her opportunities

It's not often that a 10-year-old calls the newspaper asking for coverage, but Sierra Gilman isn't afraid to pick up the phone and make that kind of call.

Just like she wasn't afraid to call Colorado Cutthroats coach Mark Nielsen and ask whether girls could play on the team.

"I saw the brochure, and I wanted to play," she said.

"She went into her room and made the call without us knowing," her dad, Mike, said.

"But I knew it was OK with you," she said back.

Nielsen said he didn't hesitate to give Gilman a chance.

"I told her we didn't limit the team to just boys," he said. "I told her to come try out because the team is for the kids to have a chance."

Gilman made the team and her loyalty to the Cutthroats led to her calling the paper.

"I wanted a story about the team," she said.

When she was the only one interviewed, she made sure it wasn't going to be a story about just her.

"I want this to be about the team, not just me," she said.

And her team will get it's due, but her story is deserving of its own article.

Gilman decided to try out for the team to honor the memory of her best friend, Ryan Arrowood, who died in a car accident in December. Arrowood's dad was her tee-ball coach, and Ryan played tee ball with her.

"I wanted to do it for him and because I like baseball a lot," she said. "I didn't want to play softball."

On Thursday, Gilman watched a friend play in the Craig Parks and Recreation softball tournament.

"It's too slow," she said. "It looked pretty easy."

Gilman plays right field for the Cutthroats. She is still waiting for her first hit in Triple Crown play, but the team has only been in one tournament.

"The ball comes at you fast and at first I was afraid of it," she said. "I'm getting better as a hitter."

Nielsen said having a girl on the team has made little difference.

"I think it makes us unique," he said. "We had one parent pull his boy off the team, but other than that, the boys haven't had any problem."

For 10- and 11-year-olds to not have issue with someone who might have cooties is a positive thing, Nielsen said.

"This team is about opportunity, and the guys understand she has the same opportunity," he said.

Other teams have razzed Gilman and her teammates, but they were just as critical of the mascot than of who was on the team.

"We were called the Salmon," she said of teams making fun at their mascot, which by the way, is the greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado's state fish.

In their two years of existence, the Cutthroats have yet to win a Triple Crown game, but this weekend things may change. They are entered into the newly formed Division 3 bracket. The division is for recreational teams, unlike the upper two divisions that are for select teams.

"It is more at our level," Nielsen said. "I think we could win the thing."

A Steamboat Springs team is in the four-team bracket. It's a team that the Cutthroats have scrimmaged this summer.

"We can beat Steamboat," Gilman said.

And that Steamboat team better watch out, because when Sierra Gilman sets her mind to something, it usually gets done.

The Cutthroats have round-robin games at the Ski Town fields in Steamboat at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and at 10 a.m. Sunday.

The other two local Craig Triple Crown teams are in action as well this weekend.

The 14-and-younger Tri County Trojans open at 10:15 a.m. at Howelsen. The Northwest Colorado Lynx open at 8 a.m. at the Ski Town Fields. All championship games are Sunday in Steamboat.

David Pressgrove can be contacted at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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