The Northeastern Junior College baseball team is busy. In addition to time spent playing on the field and in the classroom, they are accumulating hours to help various Sterling schools, organizations and businesses.
According to coach Andrew Kachel, the young men have already completed over 200 hours of community service this semester and by the end of the semester they will have completed between 800 and 1,000 hours.
“Personally, I feel like I can teach the boys the game of baseball and how to be a good baseball player, but at the end of the day if we win a regional championship, that’s great, but personally, I feel like if they haven’t graduated and they’re groomed and ready to be good husbands, good fathers, and good men, then personally I feel like I’ve failed in the goal more wide and across the board,” Kachel said of 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 that this community has given a ton to this program and to us, so personally I think our program should do our best to give as much back,” Kachel said.
The team has been divided into groups and they all volunteer at least an hour a week on 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’s entirely at each site what they would like Northeast baseball players to do there. At Ayres, Campbell and Early Learners they will do whatever teachers need, whether it is an individual student who needs extra attention or a little help or a moment one-on-one or simply helping a class with a large number of students. Of course, as athletes, it’s also not uncommon to find them helping out with physical education classes and playing with the students. Favorite activities for young learners include reading, colouring, playing with sidewalk chalk and playing hide and seek with the little ones.
On Tuesdays, baseball players gather at the Family Resource Center for evenings of fun activities. They enjoy dinner with the youngsters and then spend time playing board games, cards or whatever else is going on that evening.
North East students are ready to help anyone in need. Recently a lady from the community asked the team to spend some time with her daughter, who has special needs, and they met the young girl and played with her at a few basketball games with pigs and horses.
“It just meant the world to her; someone played basketball with her and talked to her and included her. For me, that’s what’s rewarding and worth it,” Kachel said.
You’ll also soon be able to find the baseball players at the Baseggio Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze, located at 16695 County Road 20.5, Atwood. They will act as “spooks” for the Haunted Corn Maze, which will be open October 15, 22 and 29 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and each year the team also helps cover and protect the pumpkins. at the pumpkin patch if it snows or freezes early.
Other volunteer service projects have or will include unloading a Bank of the Rockies food truck once a month at the Lutheran Church of Peace; volunteering with Sky Ranch Golf Course; and helping the town of Sterling with things like hanging Christmas lights and trees at the Sterling Public Library and helping with the main street decorations at Halloween time, as well as helping with the scarecrows for the Annual Logan County Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Contest in October.
“We take great pride in being a program hopefully we have a quote in our program ‘how you do something is how you do everything’ and we really try to instill that by going to every class , having a good night rest, eating with a hat, opening a door whether it’s a lady or an elderly person or anyone for that matter, classes are not optional, they are mandatory, get a diploma with a degree is the number one goal and then baseball, eventually it’s funny like they take care of all those things, baseball sort of takes care of itself,” Kachel said.
The baseball team prides itself on being good citizens and helping the community any way they can throughout the year. Whether it’s helping the elderly who need help with something or helping the townspeople move, they’ll do whatever everyone needs.
“I think they get as much out of it as the sites, community and individuals we give back get out of it. It’s good for our young men to see another side of things,” Kachel said.