He was on his way to the major leagues from right here in eastern Idaho, but then hit some rough patches in his career and life.
Christian Colonel was raised in American Falls and this small town boy made it to the big leagues in baseball, but instead of making it to the majors, he’s making a major difference in the lives of children who while called special may not always feel that way.
It was never a question with Christian Colonel.
“I remember as a little kid, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 on posters I would write down I want to be on this poster someday I want to be a professional baseball player someday,” explains Christian, “I would always practice my autograph when I was little because I wanted to be a professional baseball player.”
But even though he wanted it and nothing else, it wasn’t until later that the reality set in.
“And I didn’t realize I was going to go pro until college and I was playing against former professional baseball players or guys that would be professional baseball players and I was hanging right in there with them and I was doing really well and that’s when I realized it.”
For years, he was living the dream, playing professional baseball.
“2003 I was drafted by the Rockies and then I signed and played until 2011 and I played for nine seasons, eight years and I got all the way up to AAA and played AAA for three years. There are usually six different levels and I got up to the highest level and played there for three years. Played major leagues in spring training for a couple years and then did really well and then there were some other things outside distractions took over and that’s why my career had kind of ended.”
Those distractions included an alcohol problem that led to several DUI arrests, a failed marriage, and the disappointment of family and friends. Christian left the game he loved and the only life he had planned on living. Something he blames on no one but himself.
“Yeah, the problem was they were all self-inflicted. I caused all these bumps and so then I’m like I don’t need any sympathy from people. I caused them. It was my fault. It was stupid, so I’m just fortunate to come out and have another chance and I don’t think about it too often and when I do, I just think about what I can do good next.”
Instead of playing, Christian is now teaching. He has taken his love of special needs children and for the last several years has taught special education in both Pocatello and Highland High Schools. And one of his most successful accomplishments has been his Hitting Hearts Foundation and the money it has raised to help take special needs kids to prom.
“And so prom is a big deal for a lot of high school kids. And so they didn’t get to. They would maybe go to a dance after a basketball game just an all school just casual informal dance but not long maybe a half an hour something like that but this prom, it was a lot. It was good for them to see. It was a big deal. They still talk about it. They talked about it almost every day after prom and they still talk about it. Each night was just magical.”
And while it may have been a long road back from the big leagues, Christian Colonel has been able create a life that is giving back more than what he ever could have imagined.
“So, I could go back to 2013 and be like alright, you can get to the big leagues and not have a platform and just be the major leaguer that’s got money and just kind of alone or you could not get to the big leagues and set yourself up for some you know disasters but rebound and have a platform to help a bunch of kids. I would choose the latter, I mean, this is just it’s what I wanted to do.”
Christian is already getting things together for this year’s prom and is hoping to include more of the schools in our area. If you would like to contribute to making it an even bigger and more special day for these kids, visit the Hitting Hearts Foundation website.