Booster Meet and Greet on Eve of Opening Day

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Chris Beck, general manager and pitching coach, speaking to team and Chinooks Booster Club.

Members of the Chinooks Booster Club, the 2014 Chinooks roster, and host parents for the players joined in fellowship Saturday evening to give a ceremonial kick-off to the upcoming season.

This was an opportunity for the players to meet face to face with the people that make their journey to and through Alaska possible.

“It’s good for these guys to see what goes on before they get here,” says Chinooks skipper, Jon Groth.  “These people in this room for months have been preparing for the arrival of these 26 players.  A lot of work goes into it and it’s a way for us to meet and greet those who have invested a lot of their time, energy, and resources into these kids so they have a life memory this summer.”

The annual event is not just a privilege for the players, but really is a community affair.  State representative Bill Stoltze was in attendance and addressed the team and the boosters after their meal to officially welcome this generation of Chinooks to Chugiak-Eagle River.  Chris Beck, general manager and pitching coach of the Chinooks, spoke to the boosters for a short time to reiterate the profound appreciation Athletes in Action Baseball has for the opportunity to play in the small community just north of Anchorage.

After Groth delivered his address to the fans, the players got an opportunity to introduce themselves.  Players took turns sharing where they played their college baseball, their hometowns, and their positions.  The excitement in the room was apparent.

Just how excited was everyone?  “On a scale of one to ten, about 5,000,” says Alan Clemens, marketing director of the Chinooks Booster Club.  “We’ve been looking forward to this since the end of last season.”

From last season to this year, the ‘Nooks have brought back three players:  Lance Phillips, Griffith Roark, and Nicholas Covello.

“I’m just looking forward to getting in front of the fans and enjoying the Alaskan air,” says Roark, an infielder returning from Oklahoma State.  Having guys on the team that played last season is a valuable resource in all collegiate summer leagues.

“The thing they bring to the table more than anything is letting other guys know what to expect,” says Groth.  “That’s a big deal.”

This journey to Alaska for many players is about much more than baseball.  Athletes in Action makes that clear with how they impact the players on a much deeper level than forwarding themselves as athletes.  Roark drives this point home when he says, “The stuff you learn off the field is going to be life changing.  That’s why I came back.”

Athletes in Action has fielded a team in the Alaska Baseball League since 2001.  Sunday, June 8 will be the third opening day for the Chinooks at Loretta French Park.  The ‘Nooks welcome in the Mat-su Miners with first pitch scheduled for 5 pm AKDT.

“These guys are excited to be here,” says Jon Groth.  “Looking forward to getting going.”

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