By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — With less than two weeks before first pitch, the Port Angeles Lefties find themselves in a bit of a pickle — housing-wise.
The third-year West Coast League summer collegiate baseball team needs to find living arrangements for a sizeable chunk of its 40-plus player roster and three-man coaching staff.
“I don’t want to overwhelm people but I have 23 kids looking for beds out of 43 on the roster,” Lefties host family coordinator Roxi Baxley said Friday.
And time to find host families willing to board those players is getting down to the late innings.
Port Angeles will open the season with a pair of exhibition games at Civic Field on May 30 and 31, then head to Victoria for another exhibition against Cuban side Union de Manazares before a trip to Portland for the first official WCL game of the season June 4.
Not every player will arrive in Port Angeles by May 30. Some will still be competing in postseason competitions with their college teams. And players attending schools on the quarter system will be finishing up classes. But the need to find accomodations quickly is real, Baxley said.
Host families will provide room and board to players during the season, which runs until mid-August. Keep in mind that Port Angeles players will be traveling on road trips for half of that duration.
“These are great kids,” Baxley said. “They are polite, they are friendly. The team screens them pretty carefully before they are asked to come out [to Port Angeles].”
Baxley, who hosted four kids during Port Angeles’ inaugural season in 2017 and a whopping 16 last season, said serving as a host family is all about bonding with their player/s.
“You form relationships with these kids,” Baxley said. We flew down to Los Angeles to watch Wyatt [Haccou] play for his college team and spend time with his folks. There is a real opportunity to build life-long relationships.”
This season, she’s looking forward to having 2018 Lefty Matt Dunaway back in town.
“He’s part of the family,” Baxley said. “He got hurt and redshirted for Skagit Valley this season. His mom is in Hawaii and he needed somebody here to help him out.”
For those with school-age children, Baxley said the players serve as “great role models.”
“The folks I know who have kids, the guys will come out and play catch with them in the yard or in the afternoons before games. They do make themselves available.”
Baxley said host families are not cooking every single meal for their player/s.
“We feed the kids when they are here but that’s a moving target,” Baxley said. “Some kids don’t want to eat at their host families, some do. Some [players] can cook in some manner. Lunch is not generally an issue, they’ll pick something up. For me, I had dinner available to them after the games, but some host families said they aren’t doing that.”
And transportation-wise, the team is flexible.
“We work really hard to put kids with their own cars in the county, kids without cars in the city,” Baxley said.
Players also can share rooms.
“They are coming from college where they are used to living in dorms,” Baxley said.
And share experiences with their hosts.
“They are part of your family while they are here,” Baxley said.
“We put kids on a whale watching tour. You are going to include them in familiy actitivies if that’s appropriate for you and them.”
Spots also are sought for the Lefties three-man coaching staff.
“A rental would be the best, but a separate area in an adult home — each with their own room,” Baxley said. “The coaches probably wouldn’t be included in family events, necessarily.”
Host families do get a season ticket for each player housed in a host family section up close along the first-base line and the team has hosted an end-of-season potluck for hosts in the past.
“It’s really about having an opportunity to have a relationship,” Baxley said.
“Most everybody that does it, they do it for the ticket to get in the game and most of the host families attend most of the games, so the host families become friends.
“I didn’t know [fellow host] April Seibel before this and we are great friends now. So relationships are built outside of the kids as well.”