By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – For most Green Bay Booyah baseball players, they’re thousands of miles away from home during the summer to pursue their dreams.
Being away from family and friends isn’t easy for the players, so it’s local host families like Jen, Ted and Josephine Sarosiek who help ease the transition.
“This has been our fifth season hosting players,” Jen said. “Our time goes back to when the Bullfrogs were in existence. They did a ticket package for a game, and our daughter got in free. We found it as a cheaper form of entertainment. It was one of the last games of the season, and they were recognizing the host families. We had recently moved to a bigger house, and it was bigger than we needed. We wanted to help the community, so we decided to try it. We attend about 90% of the games.”
The players have come from all over the country.
“We’ve had players from Nevada, New York, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia,” Ted said. “It’s cool because we don’t only meet players from one geographical region.”
During their first season as a host family, Jen said it was also the player’s first year playing in the Northwoods League, which is considered one of the best collegiate summer leagues in the country.
“He commented to us, ‘There are so many trees in Green Bay, and it looks so different,’” she said. “We all laughed, but he was from New York. He also didn’t have a driver’s license, which was something I didn’t even consider.”
What host families provide is simple.
“Food and a place to sleep,” Ted said. “Every week, we get the grocery list. One season, we went through about a dozen eggs a day. Other guys want microwavable meals. Our guys this year want cereal or breakfast sandwiches. The team provides snacks before or after batting practice, then, they get the full, post-game meal. We don’t want these guys sharing a room in the summer, so they each have their own. That’s why we only take two players.”
The experience has also been fun for Josephine, who has a love for soccer.
“It’s nice,” she said. “It’s like having a brother or a sibling because I’m an only child.”
During the season, which is 72 games, the players aren’t home much.
“Our schedule is pretty much the opposite of theirs,” Jen said. “We work relatively early, and they get in late. When we get home from work, they might still be sleeping or already at the field. During the weekends when they have day games, we might see them a little more often. We might see them more before the season starts or during the all-star break, too.”
With only a few days off the entire season, it’s hard to do much as a family, but the Sarosieks try.
“On an off day, we try to schedule something like a (Milwaukee) Brewers or a (Wisconsin) Timber Rattlers game,” Ted said. “By the end of the game, they’re usually pretty tired. Playing so many games in so few days is a grind for them, and they’re tired physically. Sometimes, it feels like we don’t see them for a week.”
If you’re on the fence about hosting Booyah players, Jen said the reward is worth the effort.
“We learn from them, and they learn from us,” she said. “Their stories are very different from our stories. I’ve never been recruited to play a sport like these guys have, so it’s neat that way, too. You also give back to the community by hosting. We plan to continue for years to come.”
Host families get free tickets to every game, so if you like baseball, that’s a perk.
The Booyah also plan special events for host families throughout the season.
Ted said it varies every season, but sometimes they stay in touch with players for years.
“We watch the players in college, even when they’re not playing for the Booyah anymore,” he said. “It’s fun to track their progress. We’ve stayed in touch with a few of the players over the years.”