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Ian Doughty signs letter of intent to play baseball at Pepperdine

Southern Ute tribal member and Piedra Vista High School (Farmington, N.M.) senior Ian Doughty shakes hands with Chairman Jimmy R. Newton Jr. on Friday, Feb. 8 after signing his letter of intent to play Division I baseball for Malibu, Calif.-based Pepperdine University.
Photo Credit: Ace Stryker | The Southern Ute Drum

Flanked by family members and Southern Ute tribal leaders, Piedra Vista High School senior and tribal member Ian Doughty signed a letter of intent Friday, Feb. 8 to play baseball for Pepperdine University.

“I know for a fact I wouldn’t be able to go to Pepperdine without the help from the tribe,” Doughty said shortly before signing in the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council Chambers, adding that he’s hopeful the opportunity to play at the Malibu, Calif.-based Division I school will help him reach a lifelong dream of playing Major League Baseball.

That’s exactly the right perspective, said Southern Ute Chairman Jimmy R. Newton Jr.

“This is a stepping stone. … I do see you succeeding and going to that next level,” he said. “This is a big deal for me, as a tribal member, to see a tribal kid moving on. … We don’t have too many kids going to that Division I athletic level.”

Councilman Aaron V. Torres said Doughty’s success is a testament not only to his own commitment, but also that of his parents, Janelle and Hal.

“I hand it not only to you, but also to your family as well,” he said. “I think you’re going to go a long ways.”

Council Lady Pathimi GoodTracks echoed that sentiment, also urging Doughty to use his success to give back to the tribal community. Several Tribal Council members suggested he host a youth baseball clinic in the summer.

“Seeing you succeed will help them to make the same decisions in their lives,” GoodTracks said. “Just seeing you is going to have those young ones looking up and saying, ‘Wow, he did it. I can do it too.’”

Council members Alex Cloud and Ramona Y. Eagle, as well as Education Department Director La Titia Taylor, also expressed their pride in Doughty’s accomplishments. So did Doughty’s grandfather, Ray C. Frost.

“I’m very proud of you. I’m very proud of all my grandkids,” he said. “Maybe in my lifetime I’ll see you in the major leagues, hopefully … and be part of the millions you’re making.”

Doughty’s father, Hal, credited his son’s success to his “willingness to work hard and get through all the adversity he had to face,” including recovering from an elbow injury in the seventh grade. An orthopedic surgeon had told Doughty he would never throw another baseball, Hal Doughty said.

Hal Doughty also thanked the tribe for its scholarship program, something each of his children has taken advantage of.

“It really is a big deal, and it makes a difference in the opportunities these tribal kids have,” he said, adding that his son chose Pepperdine in part for its academic excellence despite interest from other schools, including Dartmouth, Cornell, Utah, Nevada, Texas Tech, West Point, New Mexico and New Mexico State.

Ian’s mother, Janelle, a former beneficiary of a tribal scholarship herself, said his resilience and willingness to seek help will serve him well as his baseball career advances.

“He’ll be very successful,” she said. “We’ll have our little bumps in the road, but he knows he can come back and ask for assistance.”

With one more high school season to go, Doughty, a right-handed pitcher, can already claim more success in prep athletics than most. The Piedra Vista (Farmington, N.M.) Panthers have won three state championships in a row, the last coming by way of a 15-1 blowout in the May 2012 title game. If they repeat this year, Doughty will have graduated without knowing a year of baseball in which his team didn’t come out on top.

Pepperdine is no slouch on the collegiate level, either: Having captured the 2012 West Coast Conference title after a 36-23 overall record (16-8 WCC), the team is hungry to repeat. Pepperdine won the College World Series in 1992 and has compiled a winning record in seven of the nine years since head coach Steve Rodriguez took the reins in 2004, making it to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament regionals in six of those years.

Thirty-four Pepperdine alumni have gone on to play in the major leagues.

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