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FROM READERS: It takes a village to support a baseball team

Sunday, May 11, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Dressed in the Rock Bridge colors, Joey Dockins, father of Bruin senior Austin, takes his turn on the grill.

Ilhyung Lee’s son is a member of the freshman baseball team at Rock Bridge High School.

A successful high school baseball program requires a supportive administration. At Rock Bridge High School, that begins with the principal, Dr. Jennifer Mast, who can be spotted at many Bruins games.

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Coaches are also essential, of course. At the southside school, Justin Towe has been the head coach for the past 7 years. This season, the coaching staff oversees a collective roster of 45 players for the Bruins’ varsity, junior varsity and “C” teams.

Then there is a small army of volunteers, mostly parents of the players, who give their time to make it all work.

Players need extra baseball apparel, and parents and other fans wish to show support by wearing the Green and Gold colors. Tracey Pfeiffer (Brady’s Mother) and Kammie Teter (Kyle’s Mother) processed all of the orders for team apparel.

Some team followers are not able to attend all of the varsity games, especially the away games. But they can get pitch-by-pitch updates on the Internet, in real time, thanks to Joey and Beth Dockins (Austin’s Parents), who made the arrangements.

For a C team doubleheader in Westphalia last month, it occurred to some parents that the boys should have something to eat during the bus ride. Julie Widhalm (Matt and Jack’s Mother) ordered and distributed the sandwiches; Cary Colbert (Wilson’s Mother) handled the drinks. Collecting money from multiple families is a slightly more complex task.

Fans are more likely to come to home games and enjoy the experience if there is a concession stand with decent food, snacks and drinks. Weekday games touch the dinner hour; games on Saturdays wrap around lunch time.

That means someone has to grill the hot dogs and hamburgers. Someone else has to set up the hot foods, take orders, make change, and perhaps most importantly, clean up for the next home game.

If Nicole Blume (Hunter’s Mother) were to have a title for what she does for the team, “Director of Communications and Concession Services” might be appropriate.

In early March, she compiled a master directory of email addresses and cellphone numbers of all parents of returning and new players. Parents regularly receive email messages with announcements and updates; parents can also contact each other, especially when emergencies arise.

Concessions work is a big part of game day operations and is an equally significant part of Blume’s efforts. “She put in countless hours over the last couple of springs,” Coach Towe said.

For this season, Blume located a volunteers Internet site where parents can sign up for shifts in the concession stand. Each family is requested to work at least three games.

“It’s a good chance to meet other parents,” said Christy Wohlbold (Nick’s Mother). Behind the counter, parents exchange ideas and suggestions on important topics such as mid-week laundry, car insurance for the newest driver in the family, and strategies for fourth hour class (which players have to miss on days of away games).

Some volunteers bring special talents when it is their turn to contribute. During one game last month, a few parents noticed that “the guy working the grill” – Gale Blomenkamp (Bo’s Father) – happened to be the battalion chief of the county fire protection unit.

It takes a village to support a high school baseball team.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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