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Bandit Farewell Notes to Vince Huerta

Feb. 16, 2013
We don’t always get the chance or make the time to thank those who have made such an impact in our life. With the passing of Vince, it has opened my eyes and heart. I know that I wouldn’t want to pass on the opportunity to send you an email expressing my gratitude for you.

You have taught me so many important aspects on becoming a better man, father and husband. Bandit Baseball goes way beyond just a simple game we all love. Through your leadership, guidance, respect and kindness you have instilled characteristics in me that I don’t think I would have gotten from very many other places or person. Basic things like accountability and organization play a role in my work life and with my loved ones. I think back to my first few practices with the Bandits and remember thinking maybe you were just crazy for having such a detailed practice plan that would keep every one of us busy doing something. Now I can look back and appreciate just how much effort and planning you invested in us.

Bandit Baseball is a way of life. But the statement wouldn’t mean much if the leader didn’t live by it too. Coach I got involved in coaching basketball for the past 6 years here in Colorado and have earned myself a head coaching job at a local high school. There is no doubt that I often model my coaching style based on your teachings. You better believe my practice plans have every minute accounted for! I believe one of the things that made our teams so good was your ability to build our self confidence. Yes we would all go through slumps that could easily deflate our confidence but your encouragement and motivation would quickly lift our spirits. Now that is one of the most important things that I ask my assistant coaches to do….build player confidence. If we make them believe they can do it, they will do it. I am also fortunate enough to be the Program Coordinator of a local club basketball team. There we get kids from all parts of Denver together to play on multiple teams. And I can see each year how the brotherhood and sisterhoods start to build like during our playing days. Your ability to build quality young men and mold them into one successful unit is amazing. Wins are important in sports but building a team that will sacrifice their individual glory for a teammate is true success. I know that lesson was learned as a part of the Bandit family.

I find it funny how I have a poor memory about a lot of things. But I know several of my best memories do come as part of the Bandits. I can remember the “Calderon Bowl” as my friends would call it. That was the year when the Bandits and Rockies were playing each other for the league championship and the winner had first pick on who to pick up to take to state. I remember secretly telling my dad that I really wanted the Bandits to win. Luckily you did and I became a Bandit. Earlier that season, I remember pitching against the Bandits into the 7th inning as a 12 year old in a tied 5-5 game (striking out Aaron Forrister 4 times on all curveballs, which is also a great memory for me). I was pulled from the game and in the next top half of the inning the Bandits scored 9 runs. Just a few games before that I was pitching against the Rockies and remember losing in extra innings 4-3. Well just after I was picked up by you for state, we played the Rockies again and you put me on the mound. I was excited to pitch against them again. This time the outcome was different, we won 20-1. I learned the lesson of the importance of a strong unit. Sports is not about individuals.

The biggest memory I have about your kindness has nothing to do with baseball. At the age of 14, the most important person in my life passed away, my grandma. With the passing of Vince, this emotional memory is brought back to the forefront. My grandma was the person who raised me. Although my mom and dad were both in the picture, neither one would be nominated for parent of the year. My grandma walked me to and from elementary school every day, had lunch ready for me and would sit outside of our backyard to watch me play baseball by myself for hours. When she passed I was devastated. My world was taken from me. I can look back at the funeral service and remember only a few faces of the many that were there that day. Yours is one of them. You didn’t have to be there. But your presence confirmed my thoughts about you, you truly care about your players. Well coach, that is the biggest lesson for me. The players I coach all know just how much I care for them. If I impact a quarter of the kids lives that you have, I would be truly blessed.

Coach thank you for everything you have done for me. Whether you know the impact you had in my life or not, it should not go unthanked. Huge life moments often help us remember those who we love and respect. I thank Vince for that. Even though he has passed, he is still making an impact in my life by making sure I reach out to you. I wish I could have made it back to El Paso to celebrate his life with all of you. It saddens me that I couldn’t be there. I hope the next time I’m in town we can meet up for lunch. It would be great to see you. Please say hello to your family for me.

Joey Calderon
Denver, Colorado

Feb. 16, 2013
To our Bandits:
Its often a solemn occasion that makes us drop everything and come together. Vince’s passing brought us together again to renew the laughter, tears and memories not only created by him but also that remind us of a time in our past. All of Vince’s Bandit pictures in his video ignited different feelings within each of us. Courageous Micah Pennies wonderful eulogy praising Vince not only as a teammate but as a role model. Watching you as young men sit together, seek each out, introduce your new Family members and stand and reflect united was a special spiritual experience. Your heartfelt condolences for Vince’s family, your hugs and smiles for one another and a quiet whisper of days gone by. Vince left us way too soon but yet he brought us back together after way too long.
Thank you gentlemen. The way you conducted yourselves made it another “Great Day to be a Bandit”.
Coach Larry Hernandez

Feb. 15, 2013
Coach Larry,

Wow, seeing the website for the first time gave me some chills. I’ve always talked about the Bandits to my wife and son (and will when my daughter grows up) and even had a team in Cruces last year called the Lil Bandits, only because that’s all I’ve known in life. I actually can’t wait to show them the pics that have me in them. I can honestly say my proudest moments in my baseball career came from when I was your player.

I lost my drive to play ball my junior and senior years in high school. However, the life lessons you helped teach me led me to go in a different route. I concentrated on school and graduated with honors from Montwood in the top 3% of my class. I then went to NMSU and graduated as the Most Outstanding Gradute for the major of BCS in the Spring of 2003. I then received my Master’s degree two years later and have been working for Lockheed Martin ever since.

The reason I tell you this quick little bio is to make sure you know how much of an impact you had in my life. I know my mom and father were there as well, but you helped mold me into the successful person I am today, and I thank you for that.

Losing Vince brought all the Bandit memories back. And although it’s due to a sad reason…I’m glad it showed me that all my talk wasn’t in vain. You started a legacy and I’m proud to know that I was part of it.

I’ll be keeping in touch and will send you some pics that you can use on the website if you choose to. You did a great thing for us Coach…we’ll always be Bandits for life.

Thank you,

Joey Valadez

February 14, 2013
Vince u were a good friend and a awesome pitcher. I’m glad I had a chance to play baseball with u with the bandits and CSW…u will be miss…..ur home now and not in pain see u soon my friend…..bandits for life!!!!!!
jacob hernandez, san antoino, Texas

February 14, 2013
My condolences to the Huerta family. It was an honor to be part of the Bandits with you Vince, you and your awesome family are in my prayers.
Joey Castorena (Valadez), Las Cruces, New Mexico

February 14, 2013
My prayers are with the Huerta family and friends. Vince was a good friend and great teamate! Bandits! RIP
Peter Rodriguez Wichita Falls, Texas

February 14, 2013
Vince is truly one of our “special heroes”. He was a great young man and a great friend to all. He excelled at all his endeavors and never forgot his love for Family. He had a light in his eyes that made his smile more prominent. He Blessed my life journey as a Bandit player and a role model to all who shared the field with him. May Our Lord Bless his Family and provide them with his guidance, direction, strength and wisdom as they deal with this challenge.
Larry Hernandez, El Paso, Texas