Host Family Program
The CornBelters Host Family Program enables a player to live with a family, couple or individual within Bloomington-Normal and its surrounding communities. It provides players with a home away from home. It is derived from a variety of factors from a player’s standpoint. Such factors include the difficulty in finding a lease for only a few months, the possibility of playing for the team for a limited time and/or the limited salaries that accompany professional baseball at this level of play.
The Life of Hosting a CornBelters Player During the Season | By Dan and Lori Cooper
A few years ago while attending a Normal CornBelter’s baseball game our daughters discovered the “Host Family” program. Being a baseball loving family, we were intrigued with the idea of hosting a professional baseball player. We were also a little hesitant, some of our friends and co-workers said, “how could you just let a total stranger live in your home?” Exactly, how can you do that especially with two young daughters?
A little over a year ago we decided to apply for the program and interviewed with the CornBelter’s General Manager. He explained, they try to match families and players who have similar interests and personalities. Still being a little apprehensive, we agreed to allow a player to stay in our home for a couple weeks during spring training and then again during the post season. This would give us an idea of how the program worked for our family. What we never imagined was just how much these young men would impact our lives.
Our first player was a pitcher from Ohio, Chuck Ghysels. Our girls' felt as if they found their long lost brother. They rode 4 wheelers, swam in the pool, watched TV and played video games together. He became a part of our family in a matter of a couple weeks. Early into the season however, Chuck was released. The bond we developed didn’t end there though, we stay in contact and he visits when in town. After Chuck’s release, we had an opportunity for a second player and again you have the same sort of apprehension. We were pleasantly surprised by pitcher Stephen Frey, a wonderful young man from downstate New York. Stephen just fits with our family, we enjoy discussing the daily news, going to the movies, and watching baseball together. Stephen is just another member of our family, so we invited him to live with us for an entire season. Our girls love having a big brother they can cheer for.
It never ceases to amaze me the ambition and dedication to the sport of baseball these young men have. They don’t give up on their dreams, nor should they. Most of us dream of doing something we love, and we don’t always get that opportunity. These young men have a chance to make it and as a host family we can be there to support them and encourage them no matter what happens. As much as you enjoy having them around, you also hope they’re signed by an affiliated team and get that chance to make the big leagues. If you can be a part of their dream, all the better.
Our message to anyone interested in the Host Family program is, “Just do it."
CLICK HERE for 2017 Host Family Program Information