Friday, May 4, 2012

What Being Part Of A Host Family Really Means

From Clinton Riddle, Guest Contributor


MAY 4th, 2012-There are some experiences in life that can only truly be appreciated if you jump in head-first, without any consideration as to what to expect or how to handle them.

Being part of a host family, however, is not one of them.

Kyle Hallock pitching in his first Class A game
Before the 2012 season started, hosting a minor league player was not something that frequently crossed my mind. My biggest concern was (and has always been) whether or not I could help out my player consistently and sufficiently, always being there when they needed help for any reason, whatsoever. Being a massive baseball fan (both in terms of my interest and, of course, sheer personal bulk), I also wondered if I could maintain the objectivity required in what can often be a roller coaster season for the team and for individual players. This became even more important to me after I was accepted to Global Sports Bureau as a scout in their organization; you definitely have to be careful not to let your personal feelings overrule your objectivity concerning a player's true potential. These issues weighed most heavily on my mind.

Alex Todd lets fly with the bat
Now that I'm a part of the host family here in Lexington for our Legends, I've come to realize that those concerns were certainly warranted, but to a much lesser degree than I had expected. The key to this personal revelation is the word "family".

You see, that's precisely 
what we are for these young men; while they're here with us, we're their family. Being an adopted child, I came to understand a definition of family very different from what others may believe or understand. I've always considered my closest friends part of my family circle, for example. There's no blood relation there, but it doesn't matter. To me, when we have the opportunity and the means, we're family to one another. When I have a friend in need, I treat them exactly as I would my own family. That means whatever they need, if I am able, I will meet that need.

Because that's what I believe, I can tell you this: while these players are here in Lexington, they are part of our family. That's how I feel.

Jason Chowning on the day the players met their host family and had their
first team practice
This year, I have had the honor of hosting SS Alex Todd, while Heather has hosted RHP Jason Chowning and (until recently) LHP Kyle Hallock. These young men have been nothing but polite and appreciative concerning our efforts to meet their needs, and both Heather and I consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of their lives. Whatever transpires on the field, I've never looked at them as if they were only players to be scouted; it's kind of what it must feel like to watch a younger brother or even a son (I am 37, after all) chase a dream. And through their ups and downs so far this season, we've both tried our best to be there for these guys. To me, it never feels like it's enough. I wonder to myself if this is, in a small way, what it might be like to be a real parent. I think maybe it is.

Anyway, I'm very happy that I am able to be a part of the lives of these young men as they work toward their dreams. They sacrifice so much in their pursuit of a goal so difficult to obtain, and I think they deserve the best we can give them. I hope we never let them down. 

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