Each season, generous families and individuals in the Bismarck-Mandan area open up their homes and provide food and lodging for Bismarck Larks players from all across the country. The relationships these host families form with each player is unique, rewarding and priceless.
We sat down with Larks host mom, Cindy Weekes, to talk about her experience hosting two Larks players for the first time last summer. She laughed and even teared up a bit when we asked her what it was like to be part of something bigger than baseball.
“I’m going to start crying. My summer was the best summer I’ve had in forever. I had two of the best guys last year. They were both from Indiana State — Mitch and Clay. The two of them together, they were like brothers.
My son played Legion baseball for years and went on to play in college. When I stepped foot in the ballpark, I was in my comfort zone again. Being a host family was my way of giving back. Those boys came to be like my own sons.
I remember their first day here. They texted me and said “Miss Cindy,” (because they always called me Miss Cindy) “we are gonna come a bit earlier.” They got to my house at one in the morning that day! I remember walking out to meet them in my driveway and those two boys took to me immediately and I took to them. We even stayed up till four in the morning that first night just talking.”
Did you develop a close bond with Mitch and Clay during the season?
I got so close to them. They even met my son and daughter-in-law. We still text at least once a week. And they talk to my family everyday through snapchat and messaging! They were such a wonderful part of my life. I can’t even imagine what my summer would have been like without them.
I’m a huggy person and everyday, when those boys went to the ballpark, I’d hug them and say, “Play hard, have fun, be safe, I love you.” After the game, I would always give them a hug, and say “good game!”
Do you have any favorite memories as a host mom?
There are so many. But one of my favorites is staying up late with Mitch and playing game shows on TV. We would do that almost every night when they got home from their games.
What’s your favorite part about the Larks game?
I love watching those kids play! I love watching those boys play. The boys always did this little “woohoo” in the dugout and would wave their hands in the air like a cowboy. Our host family section would do it back to let them know we were there. The boys love it when their host families come to the games. They hear your voice and they know you are cheering them on.
Describe what it is like to be part of the Larks family?
I love it when I go to the ballpark and everyone knows one another. I bought a lot of Larks merchandise for myself and my family, so we could represent our favorite team. The Larks were my family last summer.
What would you tell other people who are thinking about being host families?
These kids are just out of college. For you to open up your home and welcome them in, that is truly something special. And the players and their parents are so thankful for good families.
My experience was incredible. I was not expecting something like this to happen to me in the first year. So for those of you out there who have never done it, I encourage you to embrace the opportunity to be a host family.
Cindy plans on hosting players again this year and is looking forward to the coming season.
If you are interested in becoming a Bismarck Larks host family please contact Alicia Uhde at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit larksbaseball.com.