Breckenridge Grand Vacations COO Nick Doran at the Rockies Fantasy Camp
It’s been more than 20 years since Breckenridge Grand Vacations Chief Operating Officer Nick Doran last wore the uniform of the Regis University Rangers, but he is still tied for the most career RBIs in school history and is second in total games played. In 1988, when Nick graduated from high school, no one envisioned him setting Regis records, for he arrived at the Denver college by a circuitous route. Although he attended Regis High School, which had an adjacent campus, Nick began his college career at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he was a red-shirt his freshman year, after which the school discontinued its baseball program.
At that point, Regis, which had recruited him heavily out of high school, came calling again. Nick was ready to give up baseball, however, and spend the final three years of his college career as an accounting major and non-athlete. A talk with his father changed his mind. “You only have the next four years to play college baseball,” he said, “and then you’ve got the rest of your life to do whatever else it is that you think you want to do.” Nick thought about it, and much to the delight of coach Tom Dedin, decided to enroll at Regis.
Over the next four years, Nick played 207 games, primarily at first base, and batted .319, including a remarkable .390 during his senior season, with 30 home runs and 161 RBI. “I was on the cusp,” he said of his prospects for a professional career. “The scouts would be there to look at somebody else and they’d kind of give me a glance. I played summers in the Central Illinois Collegiate League against some of the top college players in the country and it was there that I realized my game was not on a par with the guys who were real prospects.” Nick’s roommate one summer was Kevin Sefcik, who spent seven years in the major leagues with the Phillies.
In addition to being a pretty fair player, Nick was always a fan. His family had season tickets to the games of the minor league Denver Bears, where he cheered for future Expos like Tim Raines and Andre Dawson. As a youngster, he’d get excited when he heard rumors about the Giants or Athletics moving to Denver, but it was 1993 before the city got its Rockies.
The Rockies have been in Denver for more than two decades, and for the past several years, have conducted a fantasy camp for fans. Nick’s brother-in-law attended a camp in 2007 and came back full of great stories. “You played college ball. You’d love it!” he told Nick. Finally,…[in January 2016], Nick and three friends—all former college players and pictured below—signed up and made the trek to Scottsdale, AZ for the Rockies Fantasy Camp.
For the first time in more than two decades, Nick suited up and, after a few hours of drills, the coaches held a draft and formed the campers into eight teams. For five days, men and women, young and old, fit and halt, talented and challenged, played a series of games against each other, coached by former Rockies stars like Todd Helton, Vinny Castilla, and several others. Campers were all ages and levels of ability, and no one was embarrassed. The pitching was, according to Nick “very hittable—about 60 mph or so, but the wood bat sure seemed a little heavier.”
The greatest challenge was not hitting but staying ambulatory and in one piece, and for that task the campers had full access to the training facilities and training staff. It was the week before spring training began, and if the trainers were going to make an early-season blunder, better to do so on a Fantasy Camper than a high-priced major leaguer.
“I was in the hot tub every day before practice,” Nick said, “and stretching. Then the cold tub after practice, which was wonderful. And Advil—lots of Advil.” The pain was well worth it, for Nick and his friends had an unforgettable experience, playing ball under the watch of former major leaguers and joining them for meals and a couple of beers afterward. The stories flowed and the campers got some inside information on life in the major leagues. “We had a great time,” said Nick, “and they answered questions they’d probably answered a hundred times before.”
Drew Goodman, the Rockies broadcaster, asked Nick what he did for a living, and Nick learned that Drew was a very happy owner at his company’s Grand Lodge on Peak 7 Resort. It then became Nick’s turn to answer questions he’d heard a hundred times before, about the Interval International exchange program, resort usage, and progress, etc.
“I’m going to do it again,” Nick told The Chronicle sports editor, “but not next year. And there’s one thing I’d do differently. This time we prepared by hitting and throwing in our indoor facility here in Breckenridge. But we didn’t do any running. Next time I’m going to do some running.”
Yes, even accountants have fantasies. The thrill of a good fiscal quarter or a reduction in the cost of goods sold isn’t quite like the ringing double that drives home the winning run, and for five days last winter, Nick Doran got to re-live a little of his youth, meet some of his old heroes, and experience the camaraderie of the sports world one more time.
Bill Ryczek is a principal of Colebrook Financial Company, a lending institution specializing in timeshare finance. The above article appeared in a recent edition of that company’s newsletter, The Colebrook Chronicle. To subscribe, visit www.colebrookfinancial.com.
Reprinted with permission from November 2016 Colebrook Chronicle.