Host families needed: Daredevils baseball players leave lasting impact
Published 10:01 am Saturday, May 6, 2023
The Outer Bank Daredevils baseball team is in need of host families for their upcoming summer season. Players will begin to arrive shortly after Memorial Day, just in time for the season, which kicks off June 1 and runs through August 5.
“Host families are the backbone of collegiate summer baseball,” general manager Michael Dooley shared. “Without host families, we could not have a team.” Players, along with coaches and interns, are in need of homes to share with willing families for the summer months. Host families provide a bed, a place to store belongings, a small amount of space in the pantry/fridge to keep some food, access to restrooms, shower facilities and laundry facilities, if available, for a player or two, depending on the space available. In turn, lifelong friendships and connections are built between host families and players, and children have the chance to spend a summer with a true role model, a “big brother” to look up to.
Jim Gilreath with Rose, Harrison, Gilreath & Powers, P.C. hosted two players in 2011. At the time, Gilreath had 7- and 9-year-olds, and shared that the hosting experience was “really motivational” for his children. “They were an extreme inspiration for my kids, and they never forgot them.” After hosting their first player for three weeks, he returned home and the Gilreath family welcomed Alexander Aurrichio in for the remainder of the summer.
Aurrichio was a 6’6”, “larger-than-life” baseball player from Long Island, New York. Gilreath said his children were awed by the athlete, looking to him as their “hero.” The family stayed in touch with Aurrichio throughout his impressive career long after that summer; he moved to Australia in late 2014 with the hopes of playing in the Australian Football League. Aurrichio’s life was taken in a fatal crash in 2020; the Gilreaths had been following his career and were heartbroken when the news reached their home. The impact Aurrichio had on their family in just a short summer was immeasurable.
Chip and Jennifer Phillips, owners of Island Insurance Company, hosted players from 2010 to 2011. Their son’s love of baseball at the time aided in their choice to welcome Tom Zengel of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Sean O’Hare of St. John’s University into their home for the summer.
“We got wind that a kid was coming from UNC, and back then my son was a big fan,” Chip explained. “It was neat that we had a one Tarheel and a kid from St. John’s, and they knew of one another and had mutual friends from baseball.” The players befriended Chip and Jennifer’s son and daughter immediately, sharing memories at the beach, knee-boarding together and even taking their son out for post-game ice cream runs to Dairy Queen.
“I absolutely would recommend hosting a player or two,” Phillips said, “especially if you have a young little league baseball player. To my son, these players were superstars, and we still communicate with them.” Gilreath agreed: “It was a really cool experience. I think everyone with kids in formative years, and wanting positive role models, should consider hosting.”
A few unforeseen upsides to hosting these players, touched upon by Phillips and Gilreath were as follows: How great it was to see college athletes befriend elementary and middle school-aged children and willingly spend time with them; how grounded and down-to-earth the players were, and also well-mannered; how their children were able to be exposed to people of different backgrounds and cultures, and befriend them nonetheless. These factors and numerous more made summers for the Phillips and Gilreath families that much more enjoyable.
“Being a host family is rewarding in and of itself, and having these players staying with us in the community allows them to become integrated into the community more fully, and relationships built during our short summer season last a lifetime,” shared Dooley. Host families receive complimentary season passes, which are good for all home games, and families are invited to attend the annual host family appreciation night at the ballpark. “Finally, we host our end of the season, host family banquet, where we wrap up the season, present our annual team awards to our players, and enjoy one final meal together as a family before the boys of summer head back to their homes to prepare for another school year.”
Those interested in hosting a player for this upcoming season are asked to contact Michael Dooley at email@example.com, 252-619-8317.