Seven miles, four quarters and 100 yards separate Hazen and Beulah this Friday for the right to claim another year of bragging rights and house the traveling Coal Bowl trophy once again. But in its 30th year, this Coal Bowl is unlike any of its predecessors.
The numbers are in and the results prove that the lake and surrounding areas were the place to be this summer. Visitation to North Dakota’s state parks is up 6 percent in the second quarter relative to the same period last year with over 311,000 people visiting as compared to 293,000 in 2008. Through the first half of 2009 park visits are up 4 percent. Camping numbers at state parks are up 5 percent.
The measure of a team’s season typically is determined by its record. In those terms the Beulah-Hazen Blackjaws amateur baseball team was less than a success going 6-10 overall this summer. Just don’t tell that to any of the players. To the men wearing the black and red jerseys it’s not the measure of the victories but the amount of joy they have still playing the sport they love.
When Bob Nelson helped jump-start the NorthStars Baseball Club with the approval of the Hazen Park Board in 2005, his vision was to eventually create a program that showcased the best athletic talent the Hazen and Beulah communities had to offer in order to be competitive with much larger areas in North Dakota.
Mother Nature has interfered with the Beulah American Legion baseball schedule time and again this season. But coach Reid Flaagan and his team made that irrelevant last week as the Cyclones concluded the regular season with a combined 72 runs in two days. Shortened inning sweeps over Hettinger and Dunn County, aided by some key losses by other teams, has set up Beulah to face Bowman County in the opening round of the Section 8 American Legion Tournament. The double elimination tourney began Wednesday and runs through Sunday in Mandan.
In baseball no lead is safe – especially when competing against the team that stands in the way of Beulah advancing in the Section 8 standings. The Cyclones had a four-run lead that Dickinson, currently the second seed in the standings, deflated on the path to a two game sweep June 30.
The third annual Jeff Gustafson Memorial Hockey Camp attracted 75 players to the Hazen All-Seasons Arena last week. But besides lacing up their skates and scoring goals, campers were reminded of the man who gave his passion and smile to continuing the support of hockey in the community.