Dream Team: Baseball players shared journey with sport will extend after high school to Iowa Central

Nearly 10 years ago, Mark Boss stared at a list of names he barely recognized that he and his younger son, Kyler, had collected.

Right before the season started, that would see the Cedar Valley Hurricanes win the Iowa Baseball League (IBL), Boss wasn’t ready to hang up his coaching jersey just yet, even after his eldest son, Sean, was getting ready for his final season before moving on to high school. With Kyler heading into third grade, the youngest age division in the IBL, Boss decided to create a second version of the Cedar Valley Hurricanes.

He stared at his sheet, dialed numbers and talked to parents about becoming Hurricane baseball players. As his eyes bounced back and forth between the digits he dialed on his phone and the corresponding names and numbers on his sheet, two names stood out. Whether anybody knew it then or not, it was a phone call that would change the lives of Brady Corson and Trey Bronner forever.

It was the start of their baseball careers. “I don’t know where I would be right now if my dad hadn’t talked to Mark Boss about being on the Hurricanes,” said Corson, who is now a senior pitcher. ”I don’t know what team I would have been on or if I would even be playing baseball.”

Their first Hurricane practice came in the gym of Nazareth Lutheran Church during the winter. Boss had no idea what kind of talent he had to work with, so he took each kid individually to see if they had any potential on the mound as a pitcher. “I lined Brady up, and I immediately turned to his dad and said, ‘Darren, he’s a pitcher,’” Boss said.

Bronner’s talent was apparent as well, even if it was at a young age. On the sides of the original Hurricanes’ hats read an individual player’s nickname that they had earned. Bronner was one of the first on the team to receive one as his green hat read “Gamer” in yellow letters because he was always thinking about sports. “He was just the kid you would imagine having a Sports Illustrated hanging out of his back pocket with his teethy grin, ready to play baseball,” Boss said.

Boss knew winning wasn’t going to come easy with a team of third graders mostly new to baseball as they went 5-23 in the inaugural season. “That first season I knew it wasn’t going to be about winning. It was going to about learning to play the game,” he said.

For Bronner and Corson, learning to play the game is exactly what they did.

Despite going to different elementary and junior high schools, the duo has played on ten different teams across three different sports, basketball, football and their favorite, baseball

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Sophomore football

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the teams was a travel team made up of players from Cedar Falls, Waverly, Charles City and elsewhere called the Cedar Valley Panthers.

The Panthers played in eight different tournaments over the spring and summer, and that allowed them to accumulate points that eventually qualified them for Nationals in St. Louis. In one of the tournaments leading up to Nationals, the Panthers lost the first game before going on to win six straight to win the whole thing. “I saw right there what I wanted to do. I made the goal at a young age that I wanted to get to the next level,” said Bronner, who is now a senior infielder.

Even though they qualified for Nationals, they weren’t sure they were going to play, but at State that year they didn’t play well and didn’t want to end on that note. They raised money by doing a car wash and working concession stands. Before beating the No. 8 team in the nation and the top team in Indiana in route to a fourth place finish in the entire nation, the Panthers got to go on the field of Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and view the dugouts before catching a game.

On their first year of freshman baseball, both Bronner and Corson were the only two freshmen moved up to play on the sophomore team. They were two of the three juniors who started varsity last season, and they have played together on at least one team every year since third grade. That streak was likely going to be broken when college rolled around.

Corson made the first move committing to Iowa Central in Fort Dodge. “I had heard great things about the coach, Rick Peterson,” Corson said. “He reminded me of [current high school coach Jack] Sole with his mentality to win.”

The worry of the best friends separating lasted for about a week before Bronner also committed to Iowa Central. “The coach told me it’s baseball 24/7 there, and I love that,” he said.

Bronner visited other colleges for baseball and was considering attending the University of Iowa if he ended up not playing, but in the end he just loved the game too much to be without it. “Baseball is a game of failure. You can fail seven times out of ten and still succeed,” he said. “It’s the mental part of the game that makes you a better person. If you fail seven times, you are going to get down on yourself, but that’s what will make you a great player.”

Now, instead of staring at unfamiliar names and numbers on a piece of paper, Boss stares on to the varsity baseball field and sees the names and numbers on the backs of their jerseys of his former players. “It’s one of the most rewarding feelings to look on the field and see Hurricanes out there playing,” Boss said with a catch of emotion in his voice that could be heard even through a phone call.

 

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