From the moment that he stepped onto a baseball field in Cortez’s youth baseball system, Montezuma-Cortez High School senior Ty Blackmer showcased a type of focus, dedication, confidence and skill that caught the attention of coaches and teammates.
Now, after years of honing his swing and leading his teams on and off the diamond, Blackmer will have an opportunity to play college baseball for Valley City State University next season after he signed a national letter of intent Feb. 17.
“I had a friend on my fall ball team that committed to (Valley City State), and they told me a little bit about the school,” said Blackmer, who is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization. “I emailed the coaches, and it seemed like a really good place, so I went up there for a campus visit, and I just fell in love with the facility. Everything was super nice, and I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Focused from a young age
While Blackmer’s journey to the college level culminated with a signing ceremony that included coaches, teammates, friends, and family, his journey began at a young age when he caught the attention of longtime M-CHS manager Tim Passell.
“The first time I saw Ty was at a tryout for teenagers hoping to play Little League Baseball,” Passell wrote. “Ty was joking around in the dugout with the others, and when his number was called, he stepped onto the field, and you could see a switch flip, and you could see the determination in his eyes.”
Although Blackmer did not smash any long hits or make any overly impressive throws during the tryout, Passell chose Blackmer with his top-round pick in the Little League draft on the hunch that the skinny 13-year-old would one day become a star.
While Blackmer was far younger and smaller than many of the other players, his desire to learn and work hard stood out, and as a high school freshman, he earned a starting spot at second-base for the varsity squad.
“He burst on the field his freshman year, and although he didn’t say a word, he announced his arrival as our starting second-baseman with his talent and determination to make our
program better,” Passell said.
An offseason gym ratAfter a freshman season full of learning during which posted an unimpressive .125 batting average, Blackmer set to work in the months following the season and worked on his arm strength and swing.
Joining his teammates for summer ball and continuing his work through the winter inside a gym at the Evangel Assembly of God charge in Cortez, Blackmer transformed himself from a bottom-of-the-lineup contact hitter to a middle-of-the-lineup power hitter and ace pitcher by the start of his sophomore season.
“Ty worked very hard in the offseason and consistently came in for throwing sessions with (M-CHS assistant coach Brett Likes), and it wasn’t long before he worked his way into being our ace pitcher and a middle lineup hitter,” Passell said.
Over the course of a sophomore season that saw his fast-improving M-CHS team post a 5-12 overall record, Blackmer posted a .333 batting average and drove in eight runs while making eight appearances on the mound, and posting a 1-1 record and recording two saves.
Emergence as a full-fledged starPrimed for prep stardom heading into his junior season, Blackmer’s dream of dominating on the mound and at the plate was temporarily put on hold when the Colorado High School Activities Association canceled the high school season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than wallowing in the disappointment of a lost year, however, Blackmer continued working out in batting cages and the weight room, where he added at least 30 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-3-inch frame.
After a solid year pitching and hitting for the Cortez Freedom Cats baseball club and several impressive performances while playing for a travel-ball team during the fall, Blackmer began receiving interest from college baseball programs around the country.
As he considered his college options and weighed his future, Blackmer was drawn to Valley City State University because of its location in the small town of Valley City, North Dakota, and its offer to allow him to pitch and play in the field.
(Valley City University) recruited me as a two-way player, so I’ll be a pitcher, and I’ll play in the field,” Blackmer said. “I just really want to get as much play time as possible. I also really liked (the town of Valley City). It’s very similar to (Cortez), and it’s the same kind of population. It felt very similar to home.”
Unfinished business on the diamondWhile Blackmer admitted that he is eager to travel to North Dakota next fall, he emphasized that he still has much to accomplish prior to his high school graduation ceremony in May.
The process of checking off those accomplishments will begin in mid-March, when Blackmer will suit up as the starting quarterback for M-CHS’s varsity football team and will look to build on a solid prep football career that has included 1,478 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns thus far.
Upon the conclusion of his final season of high school football, Blackmer will return to the baseball diamond, where he will look to lead a talented group of M-CHS baseball players to a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.
“We’ve always succeeded ever since (Little League), Blackmer said. “My class has done very well, and I’m glad to see the people around me committing. I see us having a lot of success, especially this coming year.”
Asked about what he is looking forward to most about competing at City Valley State University, a National Association of Intercollege Athletics (NAIA) program that has enjoyed success in recent years, Blackmer said that the experience of competing alongside other dedicated college athletes will be a treat.
Giving thanks to father, Jason Blackmer, mother, Tara Tozer, and brothers Jake Blackmer and Sage Tozer, Blackmer noted that he would not be where he is today without his family. he also thanked his coaches and his community before offering a bit of advice to young players.
“Put in the work and get in the weight room as soon as you can,” he said. “Colleges this day and age look at how you size up, your height and weight and everything. That’s how you initially get them talking to you.”
“I am not at all surprised that Ty is going to play at the next level,” Passell said. “I’ll be really surprised if he doesn’t go to (City Valley State) and become one of the best players in college baseball.”