A brief history of the Los Pinos Spring Classic softball tournament 

Divine Windy Boy |
Divine Windy Boy |
Divine Windy Boy |

Spring has arrived and many look forward to attending community, cultural, and sporting events throughout the season as we transition into warmer weather and longer days. The Los Pinos Spring Classic is one of many events that has made a comeback after a lengthy standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s tournament is to be held Thursday, May 28 through Friday, May 29; the 52nd annual tournament will bring teams from various regions to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation to participate in men’s, women’s, and coed softball.  

The first Los Pinos Spring Classic held in 1964 began as a self-funded event by Southern Ute tribal member Clement J. Frost along with the help of family members, volunteers, and local teams. Frost had the idea to host this tournament to offer another event for visitors to attend in conjunction with the annual Southern Ute Bear Dance, which is held during the same time. In doing so, the Los Pinos Spring Classic tournament encouraged visitors and locals to be active, be safe, and learn more about the Bear Dance tradition.  

The name for the tournament came from the nearby Los Pinos River which flows throughout the reservation to the San Juan River, “The river ran alongside there, and it divides the softball tournament from the Bear Dance,” Frost explained. “So, with that tying it together — we called it Los Pinos. It is held in May, so add Spring Classic, and it has been that name ever since.” 

As the tournament progressed year after year, new additions for the tournament came about, such as light poles donated from La Plata Electric Company, enabling Frost to host night games — new fields with dugouts and other features eventually came to pass. Then, with a newly established Recreation Department under the Tribe, Frost made the decision to pass the baton to newly appointed Recreation Director Alex Cloud.  

“I finally turned it over to Alex Cloud – he became a Recreation Director and was one of the team members,” Frost said. “I stepped back, and the Recreation Department under Alex Cloud took over, and that is where it has been, it has been run by SunUte since that time.” 

What started off as a small local softball tournament soon grew to be an annual attraction, bringing teams from all around the nation to participate in the Los Pinos Spring Classic. Frost developed a set of rules and regulations for the tournament following Amateur Softball Association, now known as USA Softball guidelines. With the assistance from family members and generous volunteers, the tournament eventually grew to host 16-18 teams from areas such as Shiprock, N.M., Dulce, N.M., Denver, Towaoc, Colo., and Fort Duchesne, Utah. 

In recent years the Los Pinos Spring Classic has seen a decrease in participation, both Frost and SunUte Recreation hope that this upcoming year more teams, families, and spectators will be in attendance. Recreation Specialist Tara Vigil remembers playing in the tournament as a young girl and is optimistic in regard to the attendance rate. “It was huge, and it was awesome, it brought a lot of people to our area and then it kind of died down – being there [with SunUte Recreation] I want to bring it back, recreation wants to build this back up,” Vigil emphasized. “One of my goals is to get more women’s teams involved locally, there are many women’s teams out there, but I also want the young girls to get back into softball – like when we were growing up.”  

The Los Pinos Spring Classic, like Bear Dance, marks the beginning of spring and the new year for many in Ignacio. The return of this tournament brings back many memories for past and future players, including Clement Frost. Upon reflection, Frost is very proud of the event, “When I look back at it–how a small idea grew and how it attracted a lot of people, seeing all the teams from different areas, different places, different tribes, it made me feel proud of having that Los Pinos,” Frost expressed. “Here they were – come to our reservation to take part of the softball tournament and be over at the Bear Dance, it just grew– it grew big.” 


For more information about the upcoming 52nd Annual Los Pinos Spring Classic contact the SunUte Recreation Department at 970-563-0214 extension 2652, 2667, or 2655.  

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