Baseball Camp is a Big Hit

Baseball is a summer commitment for the players of the Stallions Baseball Club. But, as committed as they are on the field, they are just as committed off the field.

The baseball club is a non-profit organization that provides the opportunity for high school baseball players to continue playing ball during the summer. The Stallions are based in St. Charles County and draw players from the Wentzville and Fort Zumwalt school districts, as well at Troy and private schools in the area.

“We try to do stuff to get out in the community,” Don Aulbert, Director of the Stallions Baseball Club of St. Charles County, said. “It helps to get the ball players to realize there is more in the community.”

Every year the Stallions of St. Charles County does an outreach event in the community. In past years they have organized a breast cancer charity tournament, and volunteered in a homeless shelter and a food pantry. This year, Mike Rothermich, a coach for the Stallions, came to Gerald Ledford, Social Opportunities and Recreation (SOAR) Manager, with an idea.

Before this story continues, there is something else you should know about Mike. He works as a Support Staff employee for Community Living. During the school year he works at Francis Howell North and during the summer he is part of SOAR’s summer camp staff. And, even though he is involved with SOAR and the Stallions no one knew for certain if his idea would pan out.

Pan out it did! His idea was to have a summer baseball camp using Stallions baseball players as mentors to SOAR summer camp participants. SOAR participants from each camp site were in attendance for baseball camp at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon. “I wouldn’t normally open up the field, but we have a partnership with the Stallions,” Dan Dial, Executive Vice President and General Manager of T.R. Hughes Ballpark, said. “Don came to me with this opportunity and I was willing to help out.”

The campers were able to play on the baseball field. They could run the bases, throw around the baseball and swing a bat. The Stallions players divided the participants into smaller groups. First they were practicing ground balls, where a ball player would team up with a SOAR camper and show him or her how to hold the glove and show the proper stance to make sure the ball did not go through the legs or off to the side of the body. “It feels good to give back,” Jordan Wade, Stallions player, said.

There was another group helping with batting techniques. They had batting practice and some of the campers were hitting the baseball over the outfield wall! “It is nice to be here,” Luke Niggemeier, Stallions player, said. “It is great to see the kids enjoying themselves.”

Once the practice was over, a baseball game began. The Stallions took the field. There were 35 SOAR campers and each took their turn at bat. They all got to run the bases and they all made it home safe. There were a few close calls, but in the end there can only be one winner. SOAR campers came home big winners this day. “Mike combined two of his favorite things, our (SOAR) kids and baseball,” Kristen Paez, Director of Family Services, said. “He turned it into a spectacular event. Parents stopped by to watch their kids participate in baseball camp and some told us that their child ‘will remember this for the rest of their lives!’”

“The Stallions organization believes in building baseball players but also great men,” Mike said. “They are baseball players that also give back to the community. And this is a great way for our players to give back.”

Update (January 4, 2016): Baseball camp made a comeback in 2014 and was featured in a video by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.