Perspective from three host families as 2021 season approaches
Duluth, Minn.- The much-anticipated 2021 Duluth Huskies season is a mere two months away, and as these ballplayers come to the northland from all corners of the country, they need a place to call ‘home’ during their stay! Hosting a player is a big commitment that comes with an even bigger reward, and 2021 brings the added challenge of being mindful of Covid-19 precautions. So, what is it like being a host family?
“For me, it entails late nights and big dinners,” says Karla Mitchell, who will be hosting a player with her family for a third consecutive season. “A lot of extra groceries and being willing to take someone in and being willing to treat them like your own child; to ensure they have everything they need to execute their goal to succeed at the next level.” That longstanding relationship and trust in the organization made it an easy decision for the Mitchell family to host again during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I fully trust how the organization operates their Covid protocol with players,” Mitchell added. “We already social distance and follow state guidelines as a family, so adding another person to our home who will follow the same guidelines is not a concern to us.”
The Martineau family, who will be adding a player to their family of five for the summer, says a fresh-cooked meal is the best way to connect with a busy Huskie baseball player. “’The table leaf is always open’ is the motto here!” Chad Martineau joked, referring to how their table gets bigger to accommodate more hungry mouths. “We were impressed by how much young men eat.” Echoing those same sentiments, Karla Mitchell says being a host mom is all about feeding people-not just the player you are hosting. “To me, it’s all about feeding them…if they want lasagna at midnight, they can come have lasagna at midnight,” Mitchell said. “The extra meals are not challenging at all.”
So, what is the most challenging part of hosting a player?
“I think it’s when they leave,” Mitchell chimed. “Every kid has been hard. You don’t know what the future holds for them…it’s kind of like sending your own kid off to college for the first time. You get used to them, they become a part of your family…I cry every time.” Tanya Martineau thinks the rigorous Huskies schedule is the most difficult aspect of hosting. “We got to know (former host player) Eric, but they are so busy all the time between practice and games…there’s not a lot of downtime.” That being said, having an added connection at the game is an incredibly rewarding aspect of hosting a player, stated the Martineau family. “The friendship that we made with Eric and his parents has been awesome,” says Greg. “We actually took a trip to Nashville last March to see Eric play…the bond we made as a whole family-from two separate families to one-has been incredible.”
Char Taylor, the 2021 Host Family Coordinator, says some advice to new host families is to try and make the player as comfortable as you can and just be yourself. “We didn’t have kids in the house when we hosted, but for people with kids it’s a great opportunity for your kids to interact with the players.” Karla Mitchell added that it is incredibly important for host families to talk about expectations, because hosting a player is all about them. “Every player is different. It’s nice to ask them what they expect from their relationship…communication is key, and things go a lot smoother when you communicate ground rules.” Mitchell also suggested talking to the player’s parents about family dynamic.
Caitlynn Martineau’s advice is to take advantage of the time you do get with the player away from the ballfield when possible. “Get to know them more than just ‘the person sleeping in that room and eating the food.’” She shared. Tanya Martineau agreed, stating you don’t put your life on hold necessarily, but rather move your stuff around the time you are hosting a player to make it more fulfilling than just having a temporary house guest. “It’s a better experience than just having a bed for them to sleep in if you do that.”
Taylor says recruiting potential host families has been a challenge, citing concern over adding a new person to the home dynamic amidst Covid-19. “When I started making phone calls to our list of host families, there were quite a few who were not comfortable taking in a player this year,” she says. That being said, the Duluth Huskies have health and safety as the top priority entering the 2021 season. If you are interested in adopting a Huskie for the summer, please contact us at (218) 786-9909 or email@example.com
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The Duluth Huskies are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 230 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.