High Fives and Family Time
He spent the 2015 season as the team's batboy.
After every at-bat, Colten would sprint from the Wildcats' dugout to home plate where he would grab the disposed-of bat and sprint back to the dugout before the next pitch.
He's quick - probably one of the quickest kids on his baseball team, he said - and he loves baseball, so there is, perhaps, no better job out there for him.
"On a normal K-State baseball game day, I get the bats," said Colten as he sat down in the Wildcats' dugout - one of his favorite places to spend time. "When I was three, I wanted to do it, but I wasn't fast enough then. So my dad waited until I was eight, and now I finally get to be out here getting the bats."
Colten is the son of Justin Tadtman, K-State's director of baseball operations, and he has been around the team his entire life.
"I've been in this job for eight years, so he's been coming to games forever," said the elder Tadtman. "He knows all our guys. When you talk about growing up in a sport, this is it - he's been coming out to the park since he was young enough to walk. It's fueled him to have more of a want to play baseball. He wants to play in college and he wants to play at K-State. He loves K-State."
Added Colten, "I was born and grew up near K-State, and I really like the team because it's the Manhattan team. They're my favorite team."
Though Colten has wanted to be the team's batboy for quite some time, Tadtman said it was, ultimately, up to K-State head coach Brad Hill to make the call whether or not he was ready to take on the job. So it was this year, once Hill saw Colten was quick enough and able to focus for a full nine innings, that the position of batboy was his for the taking.
"He's done a really good job this year," said Hill about Colten's first year on the job. "I've got to see him grow up, and I know he's wanted to do it for a while, but he wasn't quite ready back then. Then this year, he was able to do it and he's really done a super job. He's grown up through this thing. The guys really like him, and he know all the guys, so it's been neat."
Like Hill, the Wildcat baseball players enjoy having him around, too.
"It's been great, he's been around here as long as I've been around here, but he's finally to that age where he can be our batboy," said senior Shane Conlon - one of Colten's favorite Wildcat baseball players. "He loves it. He takes a lot of pride in doing his job, and you can see that when he's running out there. He's excited; he's always the first guy to give me a high-five after I score. It's great, and I'm really excited he's been able to do that this year."
As a matter of fact, giving high-fives to the players is one of the best parts of the job.
"My most favorite part," said Colten with a smile.
Through the fun, there is also a lot of learning going on. Colten, like the Wildcat student-athletes he spends time around, is a student of the game. Since he's been able to walk, he's been carrying a baseball, so spending this additional time around the game has only fueled his passion for it.
"It's been good for him to hang around the guys; they're all really great with him, and I appreciate that," said Tadtman. "They show him the right way to play the game. It's very educational for him. He loves baseball as much as they do. He's around the game as much as they are, so for them to show him how to play the game and how to carry themselves when they're on the field, that's as important to me as anything."
Spending time in the dugout with his dad all season has been an opportunity to make lasting memories during a time that, otherwise, the two wouldn't have a lot of time together. K-State has played a total of 26 games away from home this season, and Tadtman has traveled to all of them. Having the opportunity to spend time together during the Wildcats' home games has been special for both father and son.
"It's just been great," continued Tadtman. "During the spring we don't get a lot of time together, so having him with me during the games, it's a bonus. I can't be more appreciative of Coach Hill for letting him do it. We've had a lot of fun this year."
And just how much fun has Colten had this year?
"Out of 1 through 100, I'm going to say about 100!" he said with a laugh.