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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 13, 2010

Dutchmen from far away looking for summer homes

By Jordan J. Michael

ALBANY –– The Albany Dutchmen baseball team wouldn’t exist without a helping hand from its community.

The Dutchmen are entering its second season in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and the team’s roster is filled with college baseball players from all over the nation.

The players need a place to stay over the summer so local families have opened their homes to strangers. Last season, Jack and Sue Collett of Guilderland hosted Wes Braun, a pitcher from the University of Illinois. Braun was such a good fit that the Colletts are welcoming him again this year.

“It was a no-brainier for us because we already have a big family,” said Jack Collett, who has four sons –– ages 16, 13, 11, and 8, who all play baseball. “We all talked a lot about baseball and Braun was active with all the kids. I think he made my boys understand the game better.”

Braun is finishing his senior year at the University of Illinois and is originally from Deerfield, Ill. He pitched 35 innings for the Dutchmen last season and only gave up 24 hits, while recording a team-high 34 strikeouts.

“I really enjoyed being around their family,” Braun said of the Colletts. “I’m not usually around young kids, but it was really fun. I can’t understand how kids have so much energy, but that’s part of the reason why I’m going back.”

Families that offer to host a player get to go to Albany home games for free and also experience the joy of building a relationship with a young man that might play in the big leagues one day.

Denise Polsinelli, the Host Family Coordinator for the Dutchmen, mentioned that Derek Jeter still keeps in contact with the family that hosted him while he was a member of the Albany-Colonie Yankees. Jeter moved on to be a superstar for the New York Yankees.

“You can get the satisfaction of helping a new team,” said Polsinelli. “You get to know a new person and, you never know, they might strike it big someday. It’s just a really nice thing.”

Dutchmen General Manager Jason Brinkman told The Enterprise that playing baseball in June and July wouldn’t be possible without the host families. “These people blindly opened their doors to some strange college player,” he said. “I never heard any negatives about it.”

“It was an overall great experience and you get to watch some great baseball,” Collett said. “We enjoyed the time and especially the conversation.”

Polsinelli’s son, Nick, is on the team and she decided to host three players last season. “It was funny because I had all these baseball players roaming through the house,” she said. “They all did chores without asking. It was great.”

The Dutchmen roster has 21 players for 2010 and 18 of them will come from far away to play in Albany. Polsinelli has four families on board, but said that an ideal number of homes would be 16.

“Most of the players have their own means of transportation,” Polsinelli said. “They just need a place to stay.”

“Nothing bad can come out of a situation like this,” said Braun. “Only great things and great company.”

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