Tue, Apr. 27, 2010 - [Baseball]
Four years ago former Loras College middle infielder and current assistant baseball coach Kory Tuescher saw an opportunity to bring his two passions together, baseball and teaching young people. As a (physical education) teacher at Prescott Elementary School - a slice of the education profession whose population was recently documented as less than 10% male - Tuescher began by inviting eight Duhawk baseball players to join a fifth grade class in hopes of providing the Prescott students with additional role models.
"I thought it was a chance to give them a positive influence, someone who has gone beyond the high school diploma and is playing a college sport and working towards a degree," Tuescher said.
While the first year was a bit less organized than the system is now, it set the foundation for the current setup. A total of 29 Duhawks now make the short trek to Prescott at least once each week and have now moved into the classrooms, library, and hallways to help the youngsters any way they can. Games and physical activities in Tuescher's physical education classes are still an option, but the building of the relationships drives the time together as the Loras student-athletes work towards providing that positive guidance.
The relationships are in fact at the center of the partnership, according to Prescott guidance counselor Diane Pickel.
"Research indicates every child should have at least five caring adults in their lives," Pickel noted. "Many of our kids are lucky to have one or two, so as the (Loras) students are able to stay with our kids, (they) will benefit by becoming more resilient and develop their assets to assist them in being successful adults."
The list of Duhawks involved even extends to former players who have left the baseball team and formal Loras roster, but remain in the Prescott-Loras Buddy System as they conclude their college careers in the lecture halls and labs across the Loras College campus.
"We have a great system in place and it has extended to each of the six grades at this point," Tuescher added. "Not only that, but the Prescott students aren't the only ‘young people' learning in this relationship either. The Loras guys are also understanding just how influential they can be to these students and maturing in their own ways as well."
Among those Duhawks are junior outfielder Calvin Rea and freshman Travis Misner.
"It's a great program for a lot of different reasons," Rea said. "I do my best to show mature actions during our time. I think about how my dad acts around me and my siblings and I try to repeat those actions. The whole program is a great idea and it should continue for years to come. It makes me realize how lucky I am, and for that I am thankful."
"I recently met (my buddy's) dad at a school function," Misner added. "He told me, ‘I really appreciate the time you're putting in with my daughter down at school. She comes home every Thursday and just buzzes about how much fun she has with you. She has never acted like this before and you have really made a difference.' I cannot thank Coach Tuescher enough for giving me this opportunity," Misner boasted.
On April 13, the Prescott students made their way to Petrakis Park for the Duhawks' home doubleheader against Luther College. Regularly cheering for their "buddies" - and center stage between games when their names were announced to the crowd on hand - the Prescott students were thrilled to be a part of the game day festivities on a wonderful spring afternoon.
"Wins and losses are secondary to these kinds of things in our department," Director of Athletics Bob Quinn said. "These community interactions with young people are so special to both sides, and I'm proud that our student-athletes have chosen to take part in the program."
Head coach Carl Tebon echoed those same sentiments.
"I'll notice our guys talking about their time down and Prescott at different times during the day, and it reinforces to me the kinds of guys we have on our roster and the great opportunity Coach Tuescher has given them. It's great… in every sense of the word it's great," Tebon said. "I'm glad it has continued to improve over the first few years and the Prescott students are showing signs of growth as a result," Tuescher notes. "The Loras guys have committed to it, and that is even more important than what they do on the baseball field."