Northeastern Junior College’s baseball team is keeping busy. In addition to time spent playing on the field and in class, they are racking up hours helping out various Sterling schools, organizations and businesses.
According to Coach Andrew Kachel, the young men have already completed over 200 hours in community service this semester and by the end of the semester, they will have completed a staggering 800 to 1,000 hours.
“Personally, I feel like I can teach the boys about the game of baseball and how to be a good baseball player, but at the end of the day if we win a region championship that’s great, but personally I feel like if they’re not graduating and they’re prepared and ready to go be good husbands, good dads and good men, then personally I feel like I failed at the larger goal and the bigger picture,” Kachel said about why he finds it so important to encourage his players to help out in the community.
It’s also a matter of simply wanting to give back.
“I absolutely know this community has given a ton to this program and to us, so personally I feel our program should do our best to give as much back in return,” Kachel said.
The team has been broken into groups and they are all volunteering a minimum of one hour each week at their site. Daily and weekly volunteer work is done at several sites including Early Learners, Ayres Elementary, Campbell Elementary and the Family Resource Center.
It is completely up to each site what they would like to have the Northeastern baseball players do there. At Ayres, Campbell and Early Learners, they will do whatever the teachers need, whether it’s an individual student that needs extra attention or a little help or some one-on-one time or simply helping a classroom with high numbers of students. Of course, being athletes, it’s also not uncommon to find them helping out with P.E. class and playing with the students and at Early Learners favorite activities include reading, coloring, playing with sidewalk chalk and playing hide-and-seek with the little ones.
On Tuesdays, the baseball players can be found at the Family Resource Center for game activity evenings. They enjoy dinner with the youth and then spend time playing board games, cards, or whatever activity is going on that evening.
The Northeastern students are willing to help anyone who needs it. Recently a lady in the community reached out to ask the team to spend some time with her daughter, who is special needs, and they met with the young girl and played a few pig and horse basketball games with her.
“It just meant the world to her; someone played basketball with her and actually talked to her and included her. To me that’s what’s rewarding and worth it all,” Kachel said.
You can also soon find the baseball players at the Baseggio Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze, located at 16695 County Road 20.5, in Atwood. They will be acting as “scare-ers” for the haunted corn maze, which will be open on Oct. 15, 22 and 29 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. and every year the team also helps cover and keep safe any pumpkins at the pumpkin patch if there is an early snow or frost.
Other volunteer service projects have or will include unloading a food truck from the Bank of the Rockies once a month at Peace Lutheran Church; volunteering with Sky Ranch Golf Course; and helping the City of Sterling out with things like hanging lights and trees at Christmas time at Sterling Public Library and helping with Main Street decorations at Halloween time, as well as helping with the scarecrows for Logan County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Scarecrow Contest in October.
“We take a lot of pride in hopefully being a program, we have a quote in our program ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ and we’re trying to really instill that from going to every class, getting a good night’s rest, eating with a hat off, opening a door whether it’s a lady or elderly or anyone for that matter, classes are not optional, they’re mandatory, graduating with a degree is the number one goal and then baseball, ultimately it’s funny how if they take care of all of those things baseball kind of takes care of itself,” Kachel said.
The baseball team takes pride in being good citizens and helping the community however they can throughout the year. From helping elderly people who need assistance with something to assisting people in town with moving, they’ll do whatever anyone needs.
“I think they’re getting as much out of it as the sites and the community and individuals we’re giving back to are getting out of it. It’s good for our young men to see a different side of things,” Kachel said.