When Sacred Heart School announced in the fall that “service” was part of the theme for students this year, Varsity Baseball Coach Paul Bethke knew he wanted to come up with a way to bring that message home to his athletes.
Bethke and his coaches know their mission here as a coach at Sacred Heart is much more than just teaching athletes to throw, hit and run bases. He reminds his athletes in practice, at games, and while traveling that all they do as representatives of the Sacred Heart community is done with the idea of being good Christian role models. Bethke feels that instilling that attitude in his athletes “may help them to respond to more important every day situations in a similar way.”
Sacred Heart baseball players made a trip to Minneapolis late last month for two games. After arriving in town, they made a special early stop at the Hospitality House Youth Development facility in Minneapolis where they gave a baseball clinic for the inner-city youth that participate in the HHYD programs.
“Just minutes after arriving, I knew in my mind that no matter if we ended up playing a single baseball game or not, this trip was going to be well worth it,” said Bethke. Almost immediately Sacred Heart athletes and their families were interacting with the kids, playing on the playground, baking cookies, filling planters, and getting involved with what the kids were doing.
Officially the athletes were visiting the HHYD facility to offer a mini baseball clinic. Each athlete was partnered with a child as they went through the stations. “It was great to see the team sharing their knowledge of baseball in such a caring, thoughtful way,” said Bethke. “I can assure you, our kids got as much, or more, out of the time that we spent there that afternoon.”
Matt Ogaard, a senior, enjoyed the time spent doing service. “I thought it was a great experience to combine service with our sports program.”
The next day the Eagles focused on the business ahead and prepped for the first of their two games that day. First up was Legacy Christian Academy in Andover, Minnesota. “Just playing someone different can have huge benefits to the program,” said Bethke. “It helps measure where you are at against teams in different parts of the state.” The team beat Legacy Christian 6-4. Noah Chine had 2 hits and Devin Evavold pick up the win on the mound.
Later in the afternoon the Eagles also beat St. Agnes in St. Paul 10-9 in eight innings. Riley Wavra, Ryan Holte and Nolan Hallaway each had 2 hits and Ryan Holte was the winning pitcher.
Coach Bethke hopes that the trip can possibly become an annual tradition for the baseball athletes as they continue to develop relationships with other teams. Despite the short notice for the trip this year donors stepped up to help find a way to send their athletes down. “We are so grateful to those who made it possible,” said Bethke.