Safe at home: Local host families enjoying time with Glenwood Geckos
GECKOS Host families
The following is a list of families who have stepped in to host players during the Glenwood Springs Geckos’ inaugural season.
Eric and Laurel Gross
Mike and Christine Patch
Marla and Kurt Korn
Steve and Laura Kuhl
Dave and Kerry Heyl
Paul and Celia Nieslanik
Tim and Laura Nieslanik
Chris and Tammi Broadhurst
Kevin and Alicia Broadhurst
Randy and Jennifer Hunt
CARBONDALE — It’s safe to say that the members of the Glenwood Springs Geckos college summer baseball team like their current living accommodations more than the ones in which they started the season in early June.
“Oh man,” said Robert Silvestre, an infielder for the Geckos who is a New Jersey native. “This is 100 times better than what we started with.”
What the Geckos started with weren’t exactly spacious living accommodations. Without host families to help house the 18 members of the team that came to the Roaring Fork Valley from around the country to play baseball, most members of the team — 14 of them, to be exact — were staying in a two-room hotel unit over in Eagle.
That’s when area families, putting aside all of their hesitancies about allowing college kids to stay in their homes, stepped up in droves to put these players up for the summer. Now, there are no regrets about the decision they made.
“We love it,” said Jennifer Hunt of Carbondale, who along with her husband, Randy, is housing three members of the team. “We actually said no at first because we weren’t sure about having kids in the house again. Now we absolutely love it, and we’ll probably do it again next year.”
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
The Hunts are among the 11 households in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs who are helping to house the 18 members of the team. That team is part of the newly formed Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League, which a six-team, wood-bat league of college-level players with teams spanning from Grand Junction to Frisco to Steamboat Springs.
One of the primary people who helped recruit local host families was Tim Nieslanik of Carbondale, who along with his wife, Laura, are housing three players in a trailer outside of the house. Their son, Tanner, also plays for the team.
Nieslanik reached out to most of the families who are now hosting players, making a sales pitch about what the benefits of having a local, college-level baseball team in the area would be. He also made reassurances about the possible behavior of the players for those who had reservations.
“These aren’t like high school kids who you have to motivate in most cases to do something,” Nieslanik said. “These are athletes. They don’t need motivation to go run or to go work out or get in the weight room. They’re playing in this league because they’re trying to get somewhere.”
The league also has a no-tolerance policy for players who sign on to live with host families. Though those families house the players for free, players also enter the household knowing that they could face immediate eviction from the premises if they do something the families deem unacceptable.
Still, Glenwood’s players, and coaches, are more than thankful to have a place to sleep every night.
“As for Tim, I don’t know what I’d do without him,” Geckos coach Mark Goodman said. “To go from that hotel to being in this situation right now, I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Silvestre added that the hotel room also helped the team immediately bond even before the first preseason practice. And the host families have done even more to help with that bonding, taking some of their players to tour the area.
“We went up on Independence Pass, and the kids were just in awe,” Hunt said, laughing. “They were snapping all kinds of photos because of the things they’d never seen before.”
Or, for that matter, the things they’d never done.
“We got a lot of them on a horse for the first time,” Nieslanik said. “They just giggled. It was so much fun.”
The fun on the field continues when the Geckos (6-10) — who play their home games at Ron Patch Memorial Field in Carbondale — host the Eagle Valley Eagles in a doubleheader starting at noon today. As for the rest of the fun, Nieslanik said that’ll probably continue next year for these host families.
“Hardly anyone wanted to do it beforehand,” he said. “Now, I’ll guarantee you that most of the people who are hosting kids now will do it again next year.”
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