June 11 was one of the special nights of the season for the Piedmont Pride baseball team.
The players met foster families at Sperry Van Ness in downtown Rock Hill. The Pride Foster Family Ministry pairs players with local families to give them a home away from home while they play baseball.
For many parents, this presents an opportunity for their children to be mentored by these young men. Local families agree to support these players on and off the field, as well as make a contribution to Pride baseball to help fund the expenses for the team during the summer.
“When I started this team two years ago, I was going to do it like every other team does it and provide host families for the players. I thought that would be the easiest thing to do,” Coach Joe Hudak said. “The players were reporting in two weeks and I had three host families, 28 players and three host families wasn’t going to work. So I started the Foster Family Ministry, where families adopt a player or two for the summer.”
The families and Pride players came together June 11 to meet one another. All 10 families adopted at least two players, five families took three players, and the High family took four players. Once all the players were assigned, a family pizza was served and everyone had time to get to know each other.
There were smiles on everyone’s faces -- the players, the parents, and of course, the kids excited to meet and become friends with players they look up to.
The Graham family, who have three children, said: “We love to bring them into our home and love on them and care for them. With our kids still young, it’s nice to have almost like older brothers come into the house and hang out with them.”
Over and over parents talked about how excited they are to support Pride players and how much they loved the Christian aspect of Pride baseball.
Returner Zach Shank, who was adopted by the Sutton family, made a connection immediately. “I love them already, they are great genuine people. I want to be like an older brother to their son Xander, I want to mentor him,” he said.
Jake Wright, adopted by the Wood family along with outfielder Brian Wood, sees the impact these families have.
“They are very nice, and I’m happy I was able to get to know them tonight. It’s a really good thing for players whoare far from home for the summer. I’m only 20 minutes from home, but I still feel a huge amount of support from them. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and have a place to go for a home-cooked meal.”