For more than a decade, the Stevie Hansen Spirit Award has been given to a young Cockeysville Recreation Council baseball player who embodies qualities that make them an outstanding player and teammate.
Named for Stevie Hansen, a young boy from Springlake who succumbed to brain and spinal cord cancer after a 5-year battle with the disease, the award recognizes an athlete who plays hard, has a good attitude, is respectful, encourages fair play and is a role model for his teammates.
Jalen Alexander, a 6th-grader at Cockeysville Middle School, is the recipient of the 2017 Stevie Hansen Spirit Award; his team, the Rangers, also won the 11/12 championship this season. Jalen, an all-around outstanding player, enjoys all facets of the game and gives 110% to the game he loves. He was nominated by coaches Emil Gerardi, Justin Buckingham and Brent Bowden.
Fellow players Josh Norris and Henry Oh were also nominated for the honor by their coaches and each was quite deserving of the award. Josh and Henry, both relative newcomers to the game of baseball, persevered through a steep learning curve and proved to be exemplary teammates.
Steve and Betsy Hansen, Stevie's parents, still make the final determination on the award winner and said that this year's was one of the toughest decisions they've ever faced. Past winners, beginning in 2007, include James Woods, Stan Lawera, Matt Rafferty, Trevor Morgan-Westrick, Matt Hovis, Danny Van Natta, Ben Lucas, Aidan Kester, Jackson Cooper, and Jacob Hahn. Thanks to Jay Bitner, former Cockeysville Rec baseball commissioner, many of them were on-hand during the ceremony to name this year's winner.
While at first The Stevie Hansen Spirit Award was given to boys who had played directly with Stevie, in 2012 the award returned to the 11/12 age group, which is where Stevie last played.
At the end of the 2006 season, Stevie had the chance to pitch the last inning of the championship game for the 11/12 age group. While that ultimately became his final baseball game, Stevie had high hopes for the 2007 season when he planned to again play baseball for the CRC 11/12 league. Unfortunately, Stevie's declining health prevented him from returning to the sport he loved and he passed away in May 2007, just before his 12th birthday.
But Stevie's spirit lives on, especially on the baseball diamond and among the group of 11- and 12-year-old boys who play hard, show good sportsmanship and, above all, love the game.