KNE

While it's the baseball that brings the crowd and is the core of the Ohio Valley League, there is a group behind the scenes that can be considered the unsung heroes of the league.

The OVL implements a system that is well known around the summer wooden bat baseball leagues that is also key in allowing nationwide diversity to each and every team.

Families within the communities will open up their homes and allow players to stay with them through the season, which allows them to stay close to the field and get to know the community they are in.

In Hopkinsville, it is a big deal.

Hoptown Hoppers' General Manager Ted Jatczak said the host families for his team are a vital part in the organization itself.

"I always try to tell everybody, when you talk about Hopper baseball, yes, we certainly appreciate our sponsors, we certainly appreciate our fans, but the bottom line is, we couldn't do this without our host families," Jatczak said. "In most cases, a lot of these people have done this for several years. Think about opening up your home to a young man that you don't know on the basis of, he was recruited to play baseball for the Hoppers or whoever … You build friendships that are unbelievable.

"It's a great way to get involved. We have some that are empty nesters, we have some that have young kids, some with kids in middle school. It just depends."

Hoptown manager Grayson Crawford said if there weren't host families to house the players, it would be difficult to run a team.

"Without no host families, there is no Hoppers for sure," Crawford said. "I think those people are very underappreciated and it's not on purpose. I know the Hopper organization does a good job of recognizing those people and try to say thank you as much as possible. Anytime you open up your home to somebody and allow them to stay for multiple months, I definitely think it's something that sometimes can go under valued but it's greatly appreciated.

For a college student, moving into a location and living there might not be all that difficult as some students already move far from home to go to school. The true difficulty can actually fall to the host family.

The families are tasked with allowing someone they've never met before to step foot into their house and live there for the summer.

For new families, that can be difficult, but for the Brockman family, it has become easier with time.

Tab and Beth Brockman are hosting players for their fourth year. Beth said it was difficult at first, but it got easier as the years went on.

"It was a little awkward at first maybe, but now you realize you don't have to entertain them," Beth said. "They're pretty low maintenance."

With most of the players being from states and schools far from Hopkinsville, Tab said hosting the players gives them an opportunity to teach them about some of the things the area has to offer.

"The nice thing is that it makes the kids feel at home," Tab said. "They're not staying on their own somewhere else, they have a family to look after them. It makes the parents away from here feel good about the experience knowing that there is someone looking after them. You learn the ins and outs of the community a little faster."

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