Former CHS standout heads north for a unique opportunity

Teams from the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks and the Anchorage Bucs line up before the opening day game in the Alaska Baseball League.

Nathan Bonsell is living the dream of every young baseball player: To stay up late playing ball and no one—not parents, not school and not work—telling him he can’t.
Fresh off his sophomore season at Gavilan, the Gilroy-raised pitcher is in Alaska playing baseball as a way to stay in shape and get ready for his next chapter in his collegiate baseball career.
“It’s baseball paradise up there,” Bonsell said in a phone interview. “We’re playing every day and playing great teams. It’s something we get to do every day not worry about anything else.”
Bonsell is playing in the Alaska Baseball League on the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks.
He got involved with Alaska because he is transferring to The Masters College.
The coach at Alaska went to the same college and Bonsell got on his radar. He had considered Bonsell for leagues in the Great Lakes and New York, but chose to bring him north to help work with him personally to get him ready for the next step.
Bonsell said it is “surreal” to be in Alaska, playing where it almost doesn’t get completely dark and with fans who are true fans of the team.
“The baseball aspect has a minor league feel to it,” Bonsell said. “We play everyday. The people who are coming out  are fans of the team not just parents. People are really passionate for the teams because all they have.”
The league is home to the Alaska Gold-Panners which plays in the annual midnight baseball game.
Bonsell said he had a game earlier in the evening already so he wasn’t likely to get to that one.
“I wish we were playing in it because sounds awesome,” Bonsell said. “I hope extra inning game go super long so we can do that just once.”
Bonsell said the midnight sun messes with your sleep patterns, but it gives you extra energy.
“We don’t know how tired we are until go to sleep,” Bonsell said.
Bonsell said some guys can’t get to sleep because their bodies can’t adjust to it being light out, but he said he isn’t having too bad of a time. Plus there’s always something to do after the games so he and his teammates are out late anyway.
Bonsell had little time to have any real down time after his Gavilan season.
He basically went straight to Alaska after playing with a little bit of a break. He left June 5 and will be back Aug. 8.
The adjustment for him on the field has been the fact that there is always baseball going on. Instead of games twice a week, they’re going every day with practice before games.
“We all like it a lot better,” Bonsell said. “We wanted grow as a team together but we knew we had to do it quickly. We literally had practices for two days and then we played our first game. We haven’t stopped at all. We’re all enjoying that. We’re using what we’ve learned in season to gel together and not be lost on the field.”
The time this summer has been extra special because Bonsell went down with an injury early in February—basically at the start of Gavilan’s season. He didn’t really come back until almost the end and only got two weeks with the team.
But when he did return, he threw a complete game shutout.
“I’ve played in Gilroy so long, since I was 5 years old,” Bonsell said. “I wanted to make my last game special and I definitely did that.”
He said he had a lot of help to get to that point which allowed him to continue on to Alaska.
“I want to thank my dad for the support he’s given me,” Bonsell said. “He’s been my best coach getting me through the tough times. And thanks to Kyle Bennett for giving me a chance bounce back from injuries.”

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