It is pretty rare for these days for a travel baseball team to stay together a whole summer much less eight.
“We all kind of bonded right away,” 8th Street Sliders outfielder Nick Fedewa said. “We all had a connection, love for the game and just being friends so I think ever since then it has just stuck.”
Seven of the current members of the 84th Street Sliders have been playing summer baseball together since the fifth grade.
“It has been pretty great,” Outfielder Matt Myers said. “These guys are my best friends. I just love playing the game with them, it keeps it fun.”
The travel team based out of Whisstlestop Park is made up of kids from Byron Center and South Christian High Schools and they have built and incredible connection over the years.
“When we go out and play baseball, obviously we want to play baseball,” Outfielder Kaden Holverstott said. “But I think that the time we have off the field is the fun times, the memories that we gain.”
The team has gone from little league state runner-up to a college showcase group. They have players headed to all different levels to play college baseball next year, but the Sliders crowning achievement is its Fallen Soldiers Program.
“Going forward what we are trying to let our gold star family members know is that as these guys take their journeys whether you are going to play college baseball or you are off to start a business or you are getting in the workforce that their story for the rest of their lives will in part be a testimony and honoring the sacrifice their son,” head coach Mike Scheulke said.
Schuelke has coached this group from the start and the Fallen Soldiers Program began with a season theme of “Got Your Six.” Each Sliders player was tasked with contacting the family of a fallen soldier and asking permission to wear their name on the back of the jersey.
“It is very cool to hear some of the stories that these families have and how they have lost their son and how they want the to be talked about and remembered,” Holverstott said. “Some of them are very emotional about it and I think it is a great thing to do.”
Many of the families even attend Sliders games.
“I have gotten to know my soldier Eric Burri, his family pretty well and John the father of Eric, he is quite involved and he always get emotional when he is at games,” Infielder Mike Allan said. “So it is really cool to see him follow us be able to honor Eric.”
This group Sliders are playing out their last days on the diamond together this summer, but they have made memories that will last a lifetime.
“I am thankful that the path of my life crossed with theirs,” Mike Schuelke said. “It has been a remarkable time to share together.”