Vern Hee: Homegrown athletes are fun to watch

There is something to be said about watching athletes mature and grow up in this small town of ours.

I was reading about the Dodgers and their outfielder/first baseman sensation Cody Bellinger, who may only have a .254 batting average but has already had several multi-home-run games and leads the team with 17 home runs.

The article was talking about how many fans enjoy watching players come up as rookies as opposed to getting free-agent players. Of course, if you follow the Dodgers closely, historically, this has been the thing for the Dodgers, bringing up an entire infield from their farm club in the 1970s, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey and Bill Russell.

Bellinger came from the Dodger farm team and Yasiel Puig came from the Cuban National team.

In Pahrump, watching local athletes come and go has been my thing now for the past five years and I must say I have enjoyed watching our athletes grow up here in this town. We have been lucky to see these athletes develop.

We got to see Jill Smith play three sports, starting as a freshman in volleyball. What a player she turned out to be!

Then watching Parker Hart play football, basketball and baseball. His last two years with the Trojans were certainly exciting to watch. His junior year he was a receiver and made some great catches on the football field and then in his senior year we watched him play quarterback. There were also his baseball years, hitting well over .500 his last two years. And we would have to mention his great shooting for the basketball team during his senior year.

Going back a few years to the 2014 wrestling season, watching Jace and Jax Clayton develop into some of the finest wrestlers the Trojans ever had, that was something. Many of you were lucky to watch those two young men grow up in the community, playing Pop Warner and wrestling for the Junior Trojans.

Cyle Havel and Chase McDaniel came up this year and made the high school baseball varsity team this year as freshmen, but we have all watched them play since Little League. I have been writing about Cyle since he was in Little League and his father started a travel team.

That’s where it all starts, in the youth leagues of Pahrump. Sometimes you can spot them at an early age. Austen Ancell was that way. We all knew he was going to be great because he was tearing up the courses in Pahrump Junior Golf. He was fun to watch and I wouldn’t be surprised if he someday turns professional.

There are a few youngsters in the Junior Golf Program that are like Ancell. One of them is female golfer Breanne Nygaard, whose father, Steve, is the assistant coach for the boys and girls golf teams. She and her brother Carter, have both been playing the game since they were able to hold a club. They grew up playing in Pahrump Junior Golf tournaments during the summer and now play all year long. Breanne will be entering high school as a freshman and will be fun to watch this year.

So there is something to be said about watching players grow and develop with a team. It’s just a shame we don’t get to watch them grow as much in the professional ranks because of free agency.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at

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