Beyond the Jersey: Louisiana Heat wins big in New Mexico

Sports

The 14-U team won first place, going undefeated. The 16-U team lost the first game, but won every game after that to take second place in the tournament. 

“I ran around the whole field,” 14-U player Jayden Swann says. “My hands were up. I was screaming ‘let’s go.’”

“When we got the last out, I knew we were getting rings,” 14-U player Xavier Richard says.

“So so so proud,” head coach Bryan Plowden says. “I was in tears at the ring ceremony.”   

But the success didn’t come without a price. The entire cost of the trip to the tournament was raised by the boys. They spent long hours in the hot sun fundraising, but it was experiences like those that helped the Louisiana Heat bring the scorching competition to Clovis, New Mexico. 

“Us being out there in the heat of the day, from in the morning until about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, made us believe in ourselves to do other things as well,” 16-U player Micaiah Romero says. 

“The kids sell dinners,” Plowden says. “One of the main things is car washes and getting at traffic lights and raising money.”

One of the biggest supporters, Melissa Salvatierra, doesn’t even have a son on the team.

“She met us at a car light last year, got the information, and from there she stayed in touch” Plowden says. “Her and her husband call businesses, and that’s how she managed to stay in touch with us.”

Without the fundraising efforts of Salvatierra and the entire team, there would be no continued success. And it’s success that head coach Bryan Plowden has come to know for years. He started coaching at 16 years old. 

“When I got into it, I ended up being an assistant coach for my brother,” Plowden says. “His coach liked the way I coached. So I ended up getting my own team the following year at 16. I had like a little put-together team but every year after that I was in first place.” 

The wins on the diamond have turned into diamond rings. But the hardware isn’t what keeps Plowden coaching.

“Keeping them off the streets,” Plowden says. “I live in the city where there can be crim and we can lose young men. And I’ve lost baseball players. It’s hard to give up knowing that in the community they can fall. So I started at 16 and I’m 42. So that’s what pushes me, to know I can save more children off the streets.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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