In the months after a tragic crash that killed her husband and two sons, Becky Collier would visit the baseball diamond at Cheyenne Mountain High School.
She would sit quietly on the concrete steps in reflection as she gazed out over the sacred space that brought her family so much joy. But she never stepped foot on the field.
That was until May 22.
The Cheyenne Mountain baseball program honored Becky and her daughter Emily before a nonconference game against Canon City in remembrance of Josh Collier, a junior at Cheyenne Mountain who was killed with his father Steve and older brother Mason in October.
The three baseball fanatics were on their way to Arlington, Texas for Games 4 and 5 of the World Series when the driver of a Ford F-250 traveling northbound on Interstate 25 lost control. The pickup rolled through the median, went over a guardrail and collided with the Collier’s Hyundai Elantra and another vehicle, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The three were pronounced dead at the scene.
At the edge of the field, Becky paused for a moment and asked if she could cross the sacred threshold before stepping out with Emily. They walked hand-in-hand through a tunnel of freshmen and JV players, slapping hands with each as they made their way to the infield and threw out the first pitch.
“Josh was an incredibly positive and celebrational person, so driving up here, I’m listening to his playlists and flipping through to the party songs and being excited about being out here for him,” Becky said. “Being out on a baseball field to celebrate the guys is easy. They were incredible people, we miss them terribly, but being able to celebrate who they were in the place that they loved is easy, and it just felt natural and right and the way it’s supposed to be.”
Emily was Josh and Mason’s cheerleader through their years of baseball but she hadn’t made it back to the field since the crash.
“I could feel (Josh) on the field with us,” Emily said. “Josh played with a lot of heart. To be on the field that he played was monumentally special.”
Becky carried Josh’s prized glove: a custom fit gifted from his parents for his 16th birthday. Though Becky said it took some arm twisting, Josh’s nickname for himself, “Sexy Man Beast,” was stitched in maroon thread on the side. She laughs now, admiring the glove that, due to the pandemic, was only used in practice.
“This will be part of our family forever,” Becky said.
Josh Collier played third base and catcher for the Cheyenne Mountain JV team, and was always a lively presence in the dugout, coach Mark Swope said. He spoke at the memorial service last fall, adding that it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.
“(Josh) cared about other people, and he put everybody first and was just a good leader and inspirational leader,” Swope said. “There’s been a lot of time for closure, but it was a good moment today to kind of celebrate him.”
Swope said right after the crash, he came up to the field to find flowers laid at third base in honor of Josh.
“For Josh Collier, baseball was just another stage for him to raise others up and make them believe better of themselves. He loved baseball — every single aspect of it,” the stadium announcer read aloud. “With his clever wit and inspiration perspectives, Josh showed sincere care for every player and coach in his midst.”
Swope knew Mason from summer camps and Steve from coaching in the area. Mason played three years of varsity baseball at Palmer. He had recently turned 21 and had just gone back to school to study multimedia design — and he was thriving.
“Mason was full of passion, and he was finding adventure,” Becky said. “The loss of all of them really hurts, but the loss of Mason hurts doubly because he was on the verge of finding himself as an adult. So to think about the loss of their lives is one thing, but to think about the loss of the future is another.”
Steve Collier coached around Colorado Springs at Palmer and Wasson and was the JV coach at Widefield when he died.
From Fullerton, Calif., Steve Collier was an avid Angels fan and worked his first job at Angel Stadium. His passion for baseball was passed on to his sons and countless others he has coached from little leagues to high school. Collier was a pillar in the baseball community, which wrapped its arms around Becky and Emily following his death.
“The baseball community is incredibly supportive and honestly fills our hearts when our hearts are empty,” Becky said. “It has been super special to have that from the baseball family and community in Colorado Springs.”
Cheyenne Mountain defeated Canon City 12-2 on the windy Saturday morning. And with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, leading the Tigers 11-2, Swope called up junior Kent Chien to pinch hit. Chien is a captain on the JV team and was one of Josh’s best friends, Swope said. Chein hit an RBI single to right field to put Cheyenne Mountain up 12-2 to end the game.
A fitting end and noteworthy testament to Collier.
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