A Dream Come True
The Greeley Tribune
By Matt Schuman
June 11, 2002
When Pat Roche's children started playing baseball, the former president of PB Roche Solutions wanted to make sure that they had a state-of-the-art facility to learn the fundamentals of the game.
The problem was that there wasn't one in Greeley. So Roche decided that he was going to do something about it. His vision was to raise money and build a facility that could be used a training ground for all children in the community. Tragically, Roche never got to see his dream come to fruition. On a family trip to Mexico in May 2000, Roche experienced problems and died in his sleep at age 38.
Despite his passing, his brother Tom made sure that his dream would remain alive.
The president of PB Roche Construction created the Patrick B. Roche Memorial Foundation to raise money to build and run an indoor training facility for children at the Youth Sports Complex. On Sunday, the Patrick B. Roche Memorial Baseball Training Facility for Kids had its grand opening, fulfilling Pat's dream for his children.
The 8,000 square-foot facility cost $350,000 and will be owned by the city of Greeley, but run by the foundation. It has four batting cages with variable speeds, three soft toss areas with batting tee and stride plates, pitching mounds for baseball and softball and an instructional room with TV and video cassette recorder. There is also a staff of six instructors for individual instruction.
"Pat was talking regularly about building something like this to benefit the kids," Tom said. "So when he died, I immediately set up this foundation and carried that vision forward."
And of course, all of Pat's four children -- Dane, 11, Dillan, 9, Connor, 6, and Cole, 4 -- were at the grand opening to celebrate the completion of their father's dream. It was a special day for all of the family, including their mother, Kathy.
"With all the boys playing, he was really into baseball," Kathy said. "He didn't play, but he just wanted them to have the best ability and have everything to make them better."
It's already paying dividends. Cole is too young to play anything but T-ball, yet he is already able to hit slow-speed pitches in the batting cage. And Dane can hit fast pitches.
"I was at medium at 51 mph," Dane said. "Now I am at very fast, 82 mph. So it helps when you are batting a lot. And the pitching is pretty cool, too."
The facility should also benefit many other children in the community. Greeley City Manager Leonard Wiest said that there was a big need in the community for a facility of this kind and that it couldn't be in a better location.
"We've had the outdoor (batting cages) at Island Grove, but nothing like this," Weist said. "This is really nice. It fits in with the complex. There are a lot of kids out here all the time, so it will get a lot of use."
Jennifer Schunke, one of the instructors at the baseball training facility who played college softball at Division I Arkansas said that children can learn a lot just practicing at the facility.
"At first, I think a lot of them need to learn the skills because a lot of them get in there and they just swing or throw and they don't know how to perfect it," Schunke said. "Once they learn the skill, it is a lot easier for them to learn on their own."
Teaching the fundamentals of the game to a new generation of players is the legacy Pat Roche will leave behind. It is a legacy his children will always be able to remember every time they see their father's name at the entrance to the building.
"I think they will be very proud of it," Kathy said.