By @MichaelCaples –
Like most kids his age, Chase “Bubba” Mazey is full of comments like “it’s awesome” and “it’s special.”
When you ask his dad similar questions, however, he chokes up with emotion.
That’s because Chris Mazey understands how special of a time it is for his son and the rest of the Mazey family.
Chase is living out a 12-year-old athlete’s dreams this year – in two different sports.
In February, he played in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.
Starting today, he is playing in the Little League World Series.
“He had to fill out a big questionnaire for ESPN, you know – favorite athlete, things like that,” Chris said from a parking lot in Williamsport. “They asked for ‘biggest sports moment so far,’ and Chase said that he played in the Quebec Pee Wee Tournament in front of 10,000 people.
“He’s got to be the only kid to play in Quebec and Williamsport this year…I can almost guarantee you that.”
Chase also found time to win a Michigan Amateur Hockey Association state championship with his Honeybaked ’05 team and to break his collarbone in that timeframe, too.
Quite a six-month span, huh?
“What I’ve found with Chase, is…he’s the consummate team player,” Chris said. “He will do whatever is asked, when it’s asked. He doesn’t worry about his individual stats or accolades or anything like that. He’s just a competitive kid who wants to win. He’s a very special kid.”
Bubba is certainly following the USA Hockey American Development Model suggestion of taking a break from hockey to play a different sport, has been riding a baseball roller coaster this summer. Playing on an all-star team from his Grosse Pointe Woods/Shores Little League association, he and his ball-playing friends raced through a district championship, a state championship and a regional championship in the matter of weeks.
When they won their regional tournament to officially represent the Great Lakes Region at the Little League World Series, the craziness only increased.
“Yeah so after we left the field, we all went back to the hotel and hung out and had a good time and then went to bed,” Chase said. “We got up at 8 and got on a bus and drove like 10 hours to Williamsport.”
Is he tired? Like true professionals, the Grosse Pointe boys are taking care of their responsibilities.
“I’m not that tired,” Chase said. “We get to bed at a good time, wake up at a good time, have a good schedule, eat good food. The days are long and they are busy, but they are a lot of fun.”
He’s got a hockey buddy along for the ride, too; starting catcher Jake Martin plays for the Grosse Pointe Bulldogs.
Chase said the boys are having a great time in Williamsport, but they’re incredibly busy at the same time.
“oh, it’s just such a blast. It’s amazing. All the teams, everyone here, the whole field, the whole thing, it’s just awesome.”
He doesn’t seem fazed by the idea that he’s playing games on ESPN, either.
“At the beginning, before the game, you would look around and see all the fans and all the people cheering, and the cameras, but once the first pitch comes in, it’s like a regular baseball game,” Mazey said. “You start watching it and having fun and play some baseball.”
Much like he experienced in Quebec – considering the pee wee tourney is hockey’s equivalent of the LLWS – Chase is enjoying getting to meet baseball players from across the globe.
“It’s crazy. All the people around you, all the things that you have, how much fun you can have with your teammates and with all the other teams from around the world, that’s really special.”
Mazey will once again be suiting up for coach Matt Romaniski and Honeybaked this fall. His hockey coach is watching from Metro Detroit, cheering him on.
“Bubba Mazey, we call him Bubba, we’ve been watching it on ESPN, the games leading up to it, and all the guys have had fun following him and sending emails and text messages with the guys back and forth as they watch him,” Romaniski said. “We’re sitting here watching him play now as we go. It’s pretty cool. It’s an experience for Bubba, he’s always been a great baseball player, pretty cool to get this experience.
“I haven’t seen him play baseball, but as a hockey player, he’s very competitive, and he loves to play at the highest level – whether it’s hockey or baseball, from what I’ve understood. He’s a great athlete and a great kid. For him, he’s one of those kids who, I’m looking forward to seeing him when he gets back because he can talk and he tells a lot of stories. I can’t wait to hear the stories from his experience when he gets back, for sure.”
Romaniski said that he wants his HB players playing other sports, and he knows that Chase’s LLWS experience will only benefit him moving forward.
“I think it’s great. One thing we do as a team at Honeybaked, for my group, we encourage our players to play other sports. To see him have success at another sport is huge. There’s more than just hockey, we preach that all the time, so to see him be a young man and get that opportunity, to play in the Little League World Series, be on ESPN and be on TV, it’s one of those dreams-come-true things for him and it’s a great stepping stone for him to help him with every sport. Coming back to hockey, just to have that experience and playing in that environment, it will help him as an athlete overall in all the sports he plays.”
Which leads to the most pressing question of all for Chase…which sport does he like more?
“Oh, I don’t know, that’s close,” the pitcher/outfielder/defenseman said. “I don’t even know if I could pick one. They’re both awesome.”
His dad has an idea, though.
“He put on his ESPN questionnaire that his dream job would be…he put on there that he wants to be an NHL defenseman, so it would probably be hockey,” Chris said with a laugh.