Apache baseball team serves community

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     On the field, they are a championship winning baseball team. Off the field, they serve the community through various organizations and activities. There is more to the Tyler Junior College baseball team than meets the eye.

     One of TJC’s three promises is community service, which is a vital part of what the baseball team does every semester.

     “We usually participate in four to five events each year,” said Head Coach Doug Wren.

     Over the years the TJC baseball team has worked with various organizations including the East Texas Food Bank, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Firefighter Combat Challenge, Habitat for Humanity and the American Heart Association. The activities the team participates in are almost as varied as the organizations themselves. For example, in the past they have helped the East Texas Food Bank by distributing and moving big boxes of food as well as helped with the Special Olympics fair.

     The team also participates in K’s for Cancer. This event is held annually and benefits The American Cancer Society. A donation is made for every batter that the Apaches strike out over the course of two doubleheaders.

     “The guys look forward to the K’s for Cancer event,” said Wren. “They can earn money for a cause while playing.”

     This event also holds special meaning for several of the players.

     “Two of our guy’s moms have cancer,” said Wren. “But cancer is a disease that really affects all of us. Lots of us have relatives or know someone with cancer so this event really hits home.”

     Last spring’s athletic department intern Josh Bragdon helped put together this past year’s event which took place during the March 31 and April 2 games against Brookhaven College and Cedar Valley College. During the event, the Apache pitching staff recorded 21 strikeouts. The goal was to raise $500. Through the sales of K’s for Cancer T-shirts, purple ribbons and donations, the team was able to raise $1,391.

     On Nov. 20, members of the team participated in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Cycle for Life. This was the Foundation’s first year for the cycling event.

     “They loved helping,” said Dacia Edmonson, Director of Development for the Northeast Texas Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “The course was 60 miles long and they put up signs every quarter to half a mile. That’s a lot of signs.”

     According to Edmonson, the cyclists enjoyed having the team there just as much as the players were to be there.

     “The guys stood at intersections and helped the cyclists know where to go. The cyclists loved it because they felt like the guys were the on-course cheering section.”

     Another project was participating in building a Habitat for Humanity home.

     “With 40 guys we can do a lot in a small amount of time,” said Wren. “We had two groups of 20 guys that went out to help with the home.”

     “They helped move siding, took walls out, and put up decking in trusses,” said Rand Huzenlaub, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. “We’ve never had a group from TJC that didn’t work hard.”

     “It took half a day and we got a lot done,” said Wren.

     These service projects not only help the community but also provide opportunities to be role models as was the case before the NJCAA Division III World Series Championship Game when a Little League team was allowed to warm up with the TJC baseball team.

     “It’s a reality check for the guys,” said Wren. “They know they need to be good role models and that many guys don’t get the opportunity to play college ball.”

     It’s this sense of community spirit that showcases the true range of the baseball team’s talents.

     For more information about Habitat for Humanity, contact Rand Huzenlaub at 903-595-6630. For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, contact Dacia Edmonson at 903-597-6237. For more information about this year’s K’s For Cancer event, contact the TJC athletic department at 903-510-2458.

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