Cutcher to catch down under

Helena resident Derek Cutcher is headed to Australia. Cutcher has been chosen for the 2003 United States baseball team as a People to People Sports Ambassador.

Cutcher, 18, recently graduated from Kingwood Christian School, where he played for two years with the junior varsity baseball team and four years with the varsity baseball team.

Cutcher will play for the U.S. team in the catcher’s position. He is the only player from Alabama chosen for the 2003.

He recently received a letter of congratulations from Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

&uot;It is exciting that you have the opportunity to represent the United States in this summer’s 2003 Australia Games Baseball Tournament,&uot; he wrote. &uot;I know that you will represent both our state and natin through your on-field excellence and sportsmanship.&uot;

The People to People Sports Ambassador Program is a competitive program that includes a balanced combination of training camps, competition events and cultural visits. The event brings athletes across the U.S. together to form a team which then travels to compete with international athletes, while forming friendships and gaining a global perspective.

Because of the educational nature of the program, athletes who participate can earn college credit for participation.

Cutcher is the son of Dee and Tyra Cutcher of Helena. He has one brother, Juston. He is the grandson of Ivan and Robin Brashier of Helena and Ruben Dee Cutcher Sr. of Mt. Olive and the great-grandson of Bertha Brashier of Columbiana.

Cutcher has been playing baseball since he was small. He played for nine years with the Helena Dixie Youth League, where he was a five-time All Star and a member of the sub-district championship team once.

He played catcher on the Kingwood Christian baseball teams for six years and received the 1999 Mr. Baseball Award for the Junior Varsity team. He also received the 2003 Offensive MVP award for the varsity.

In 2002, he played on the Alabama championship Over the Mountain Dizzy Dean team which playing four games in the World Series in Southaven, Miss., in August 2002.

He was a 2003 AISA All Star and played in the East-West game at Huntingdon College this past May.

In addition to his interest in baseball, Cutcher is a model student.

He was chosen as a 2001 U.S. Student Ambassador to England, Ireland and Wales. He was also listed in the Who’s Who Among American High School Students, the 2002-03 National Honor Roll and the 2002-03 Who’s Who Among American High School Students.

Cutcher presently works at Chase Lake as a lifeguard. He is in the process of deciding which college to attend or possibly see what may be available in Australia.

Cutcher will leave for Auckland, Australia on July 25 and cross the International Date Line on July 26.

While in Australia, he will visit Kelly Tarlton’s, a unique aquarium and Antarctic discovery center; visit Rororua, New Zealand, to experience the Maori culture; have a traditional bush dinner in Surfers Paradise; visit Sydney for a harbor cruise, a trip to the opera house and the musuem, where he will see an Aboriginal performance; and participate in a community service project to restore an Australian beach back to its natural habitat.

The most difficult part of the trip, according to the Cutcher family, has been raising the funds to travel to Australia. Each athlete must raise $2,200 for the trip. Cutcher has been fortunate, however, and has been able to raise the entire amount.

Cutcher expressed thanks to the individuals and businesses who have offered funds for the trips.

A total of 14 individuals, including his parents and brother, Juston, also contributed.

Businesses who sponsored him include The Church at the Mill, Novus, Kingwood Christian School’s Student Government Association, Shelby Baptist Medical Center, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, Riverwoods Properties, Magnolia Springs Manor, Ernie’s Pharmacy Inc., Standifer Insurance, Jerry Austin – State Farm, Sarah’s Flowers, The Depot, M. John Hebert CPA, Kent’s Gallery, Southeastern Butcher Supplies Inc., Winn Dixie, Forte Inc., attorney Elizabeth A. Roland and Village Market & Deli