Team celebration

Chuck Powell, DDS, MS, lived his dream as an all-star MLB baseball player at the Rockies Fantasy Camp this winter. From official, personalized jerseys in recognizable Rockies purple to champagne celebration showers, the camp spared no details.

Powell, a periodontist and baseball fan since childhood, works in the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. He serves as Department Chair of Surgical Dentistry, Chair of the Division of Periodontics and Director of Postgraduate Periodontics.

Dental school professor Chuck Powell
Chuck Powell, DDS, MS, smiles by his official jersey.

Just in time for the Rockies’ home-opening day, Powell took a break from his busy schedule to share his fantasy experience with CU Anschutz Today.

Today: What exactly is the Rockies Fantasy Camp?

Powell: It’s a five-day experience (Jan. 30 through Feb. 3) that gives an individual a taste of the life of a Major League Baseball player. The camp is held at the Rockies’ Spring Training facility (at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.). Campers get to experience all aspects of the Rockies’ facilities, including their own locker and personalized jersey, play seven games and receive coaching by former and current Rockies players and coaches.

Today: Why did you sign up?

Powell: I signed up to get an inside look at the Rockies’ organization and to have a lot of fun. It’s not often that I get the opportunity to totally forget about my responsibilities here at CU. Enjoying the warm weather on a perfectly manicured field, I couldn’t believe it when I was in a Rockies’ uniform and all I had to do was concentrate on baseball.

Today: Do participants have to be selected?

Powell: Anyone can attend the camp, and there was quite an age range, with men and women from 20 to 91 years old. However, tryouts are held where campers demonstrate their skills in hitting, fielding and pitching. The coaches held a draft, the teams were announced and the first game was played that evening “under the lights.”

Today: What got you into baseball and how long have you been a fan?

Powell: I started playing as a kid and have been a lifetime fan. Ever since the Rockies’ 2007 World Series run, my interest has grown and grown!

Today: What do you like about the sport?

At Rockies Fantasy Camp
The team gears up for a great day on the field.

Powell: The intricacies of the sport are the best parts: for example, how changing subtle aspects of swinging the bat or pitching the ball can make big differences in success. I also enjoy seeing and experiencing different ballparks. Each is unique and has a story to tell.

Today: Did the Fantasy Camp/Spring Training meet your expectations?

Powell: The camp exceeded my expectations! It was a great week with the opportunity to experience beautiful weather and play in great games on amazing fields. Having the chance to interact each day with my manager, Vinny Castilla, and exchange baseball stories was priceless. I even fouled off a pitch from Jeff Francis in the campers-vs.-coaches game! I’m surprised I even made contact with his pitch, given how fast it was. It was a surreal experience facing a former World Series pitcher. I also met many new friends. I get to reunite with my teammates this summer to play a game at Coors Field.

Today: What was the best part?

Powell: The best part was that my team, Vinny’s Cousins, had the second-best pool play record and advanced to play in the championship game. It was awesome seeing my picture on the centerfield scoreboard. Our team won the game over Chad Bettis’s team 7-2. I experienced a full championship celebration with fireworks, was sprayed with champagne on the field and received a beautiful crystal piece commemorating the championship.

Today: Will you be going to Rockies’ opening day or other games?

Powell: I will be attending opening day; my wife and I have made it a tradition over the past few years. We also like to attend games throughout the season, with the opportunity to see other teams and their stars.