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The hard work and determination Roy Halladay brought to his athletics is something Jeff Legault, baseball coach at Dakota Ridge High School, teaches to his players daily.
As an assistant coach at Arvada West High School in the early 1990s, Legault remembers Halladay lifting in his hotel room instead of hanging by the pool with his teammates when the team was on the road.
“I can teach my kids at Dakota Ridge what it takes to be a major league player and point out if they aren't working hard enough to get there,” Legault said.
Halladay, a former Major League Baseball All-Star and a 1995 Arvada West graduate, died Nov. 7 when his single-engine plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast. He was 40.
“It's really sad to see him go,” Legault said. “He left a lasting impression. His legacy still lives and impacts Colorado baseball.”
Halladay was a three-sport athlete at Arvada West High School in cross country, basketball and baseball. He led the Arvada West baseball team to the 6A state championship title in 1994 and was described as “an ace right-hander” who led the Wildcats to a return appearance in the class 6A prep championship game in 1995.
Also in 1995 he was named All District, All State, All American and Player of the Year for baseball.
“We were proud to have him on our team as a Wildcat,” a statement from Arvada West High School read.
Out of high school, Halladay was drafted to the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round and played for the team from 1998 through 2009, after which he was traded to Philadelphia.
While playing for both the American and National leagues, Halladay was a two-time Cy Young Award Winner for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003 and Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. He was an eight-time All Star Team selection.
Halladay retired from baseball nearly four years ago. He will be eligible for the MLB Hall of Fame in 2019.
“He was a special talent as far as baseball is concerned,” said Mike Mulvaney, athletic director at Arvada West High School. “He was a good example of the way you should handle yourself. We always strive for our athletes to be leaders and good community members.”
And Halladay didn't forget about his hometown of Arvada.
During his time in the MLB, he was generous to the Arvada West athletic program, donating resources that are still supporting students today.
And his legacy remains visible in the community.
A banner on the press box at the Arvada West High School baseball stadium celebrates Halladay as a Wildcat. His retired number hangs on the outfield wall.
Plans are in the works to honor his memory at the start of this coming spring baseball season.
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