Baseball team gives back

Nick Gainey

The baseball team attended the Great River Challenge Event at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa on Oct. 2. This is the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits minor league baseball team. About 25 players split into groups and assisted in setting up a friendly baseball game for people with disabilities. The Vikings spent a full day offering their time and talents for the event, helping in various aspects to make sure the event ran smoothly. 

“We showed up from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in groups of four. We all had an hour slot and we would pitch and catch for the kids,” sophomore catcher Eric Adams said. “Those of us not doing that would hang out on the field and coach them or talk to them.” 

Junior pitcher Jake Reusch was one of the players to take the field with the kids. 

“I was catching and there were a few other guys pitching as well as rolling them ground balls in between innings,” Reusch said.

The team participates in the event on a yearly basis and is a popular event among the players. 

“We do it every fall we can because we love giving back to the community,” junior pitcher Zach Gooding said. 

Many of the underclassmen on the team, such as Adams, participated for the first time since the event was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately we were unable to do it last year because of COVID, but we were back at it again this year,” Adams said. 

Not only do the Augustana players enjoy giving back to their community, they also enjoyed meeting and spending time with the event participants, who were mostly children. 

“I thought it was a lot of fun, and working with kids is so fun, and seeing them smile and have a good time made it worth it even more,” Reusch said. “We just encouraged them and made sure they had fun.” 

The experience inspired the players to take up more volunteer work and continue to have a positive impact on their community, while also encouraging other Augustana community members to give back.

“I plan to help out within the community when I have time or when asked,” Reusch said. “I love to volunteer and definitely see myself continuing to do so.” 

The challenge event has been held almost continuously for over a decade and is still running strong. Future Viking athletes have a chance to enhance the lives of those around them, and even better themselves as people, for years to come. 

The baseball team will return to play next spring after a successful 2021 season. The team compiled a 35-9 record and returned several key contributors. Through their generosity, the Vikings have plenty of new fans to cheer them on.