Leagues for all ages keep families busy

News editor

Thursday evening was a typically busy outing at the Marion baseball and softball complex. While older siblings played on the field, the playground area was packed with younger siblings too restless to sit still in the bleachers. A boy played catch and practiced pitching with his father while waiting for the rest of his team to arrive.

A young boy fell and scraped his knee on the sidewalk, then got up and kept running as if nothing had happened while Margo Yates called, “Do you want a Band-Aid?” from the concession stand.

Kelley Schafers was at the ballpark to watch two different games. Her daughter Emily was playing in a softball game while her son Trevor was warming up for a coach-pitch baseball game.

“We’re out here five nights a week,” Schafers said.

Trevor’s games are Monday and Thursday, Emily’s are usually Tuesday and Friday (but Thursday’s game was a makeup game from one that was rained out), and her husband plays adult softball on Sunday nights.

“I like it,” Schafers said. “I enjoy it.”

After enough hours sitting in the bleachers, though, she bought herself a nicely cushioned seat, an investment she said has been well worth the price she paid.

The busiest part of the summer is the last week of May through the first week or so of July, while the kids’ seasons run. Adult softball continues into August, she said. Between immediate and extended family, her children usually have five to eight relatives cheering them on at all their games.

The season includes some travel to nearby communities for road games. Schafers said they’ve been to Council Grove and Chase County this season.

As busy as the Schafers family’s summer schedule is, it was even busier last year with swim meets.

“This year we aren’t doing swim team, and it’s nice,” she said.

Brothers umpire games

Thursday evening there were five games spread over three fields. Having so many games requires a lot of umpires as well, and the Heidebrecht family has been good for summer sports in that respect. Brothers Taylor, Peyton, and Evann Heidebrecht are umpires this summer, and their older brothers used to umpire as well, Yates said.

“If they’re not playing, they’re umpiring,” she said.

Taylor Heidebrecht, 18, said he has been umpiring since he was 13 years old. He said he sometimes heard some complaining from crowds when he was younger, but they have mellowed out over his years officiating.

Last week he umpired five games, and he has umpired as many as eight games in a week. He is working during the day for the city, where his job includes maintenance at the baseball and softball complex.

“I like being around baseball, but sometimes taking up so much time, you lose some of being a kid in the summer, especially before college,” Heidebrecht said.

He will attend Hutchinson Community College in the fall. He said he hasn’t decided whether he wants to join the baseball team there as a walk-on.

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