While most NJCAA Top 25 teams were hard at work on the baseball diamond the week before their season openers, Coach Galen McSpadden and his Seward County Saints Baseball Team were out in a different field giving back to their community. As part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters and “Pass it On” programs, many area youth were able to spend a day of trap shooting and pheasant hunting with some of the best junior college baseball players in the country.

Laurie and Jerry Hull of Sand Wells Outdoors in Hugoton were kind enough to donate their land, dogs, food, vehicles, and more to the 20 area youngsters as well as the Saints Baseball Team that Sunday morning and afternoon. After everyone got plenty of shots fired at the clay pigeons and their practice in for the day, the team and the “little’s” sat down for an old fashioned cookout to fill their stomachs before they headed out to the field. With stomachs full and hopes high, everyone geared up in their blaze orange hunting gear and loaded up on one of two deluxe hunting trucks to head out to the field. For many of the youngsters ages 7-15, Sunday was their first time to shoot a firearm so only those with their hunter’s safety cards and licenses were able to have a loaded gun for the hunt. For the younger members of the group that hadn’t reached that point in time yet, they took the occasion to get dressed up and emulate the older hunters as they tagged along. As the 25 Saints players and coaches along with their little’s lined up to start the hunt at their first field, one little compared the scene to a recent learning experience he had in school that week. “Whoa, this is like the Civil War” he said, “everyone is just lined up in the field with their guns and then we all start walking at the same time” he continued. Right off the bat, two roosters were flushed, but abiding by their instructors rules from earlier in the day, not to shoot anything if it got behind you, the long-tails would live to see another day. After the group was finished with the first field the score was hunter’s one and bird dog one, as just one pheasant had been shot while one had been caught on the ground without being shot by the guides dog. From there on, the group split and half headed one way while the other headed the other, but after a day of bonding with their little’s and showing them a little bit about the outdoors, the group reconnected for pictures and stories of their day.

The little’s and the baseball players seemingly had the same amount of fun with their time together. “I can’t wait until next year when I can hunt with you guys” one little exclaimed. Another seemed completely content with walking along with the group as long as he was able to carry the birds in his hunters vest once they had been shot. Saints starting catcher Todd Glime commented “the best part was, it didn’t really matter if we shot anything or they shot anything. We were all just enjoying the outdoors together, which is something that many of these little guys might not have the opportunity to do if it weren’t for days like this.” Many of the Seward County baseball players have built a connection with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization taking their little’s to various activities such as basketball games or just a friendly game of catch after a game. “The support and time that we get from the Seward County Baseball Team is just great” Big Brothers/Big Sisters coordinator Maggie Sale said. “They could be doing so many other things today with their season coming up and instead they are out here making every one of these children smile.”

As well as being successful off the field, the #12 Saints have started their 2009 season at 6-2 as they prepare for a midweek trip to Texas starting Monday, March 2nd. For more information on Sand Wells Outdoors or to book your hunt with them contact Laura Hull at 1-866-365-6112 or 620-544-2305.