On the evening of Saturday, February 2nd, the Wittenberg University baseball program hosted their second annual "Meet the Team Night" fundraiser to hype up the start of the 2019 season. The event was held at the Windy Knoll Golf Course banquet hall in Springfield, OH. The hall, once again, proved to be the perfect setting for the night's celebration, food, fun, and prizes.
The evening began with an energetic welcome from Coach McGee thanking all the supporters in attendance, his coaching staff, and players for their continued commitment and loyalty to the program with the upcoming season ahead. In a night full of incredible memories, Coach McGee stated, "Things couldn't have gone better. It was a program-changing night for anyone who has ever been a part of Wittenberg Baseball. In front of my very eyes, I was witnessing change. The culture being created here is one you can win with. People are 'buying in'. True support is showing up. This team is starting to understand what it takes, doing the things off the field in order to win on the field."
The evening continued with a great speech from Wittenberg University Vice President and Director of Athletics and Recreation, Dr. Gary Williams. The speech included his excitement for the upcoming season and the future of the Wittenberg University baseball program. He thanked the seniors for their commitment and loyalty to the University and the baseball team. He also expressed his enthusiasm for the amount of support generated from family and friends for the Tiger baseball program. He ended his speech noting how important the memories that events like this create and how it will be something that the players will be able to look back and remember.
The evening also included moments such as player introductions, team announcements, outlook on the season ahead, recognition of the team's great academic success during the fall semester, and a message from Jack Hollinshead (SO/C/Highland Heights, OH) about his foundation, My Inner Warrior, which raises funds to provide greater opportunities throughout inner-city baseball programs.
A delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner with salad, mixed vegetables, and rolls were provided to all in attendance by the Windy Knoll staff in a buffet-style setting. There was also a cash bar on hand throughout the evening.
The highlights of the night began with the four seniors, Jace Barga (LHP/Versailles, OH), Brandon Beegle (RHP/Springfield, OH), Greg Vanerstrom (INF/Pittsburgh, PA), and Matt Baker (OF/Tucson, AZ) having the floor to address the crowd individually. All four giving exceptional, heartfelt speeches about what Wittenberg has meant to them over their four years and their excitement for the upcoming season. "These guys did an exceptional job and shared some things I know they must have had to put some thought into. I am proud of how professional they carried themselves up there, and the standard which future seniors will have to follow," Coach McGee said.
The grand finale of the night was the drawing of the different raffles. There was a 50/50 drawing, Basket Auction, and some great door prizes. Some of the auction baskets included a 55" TV and XBOX One, a pair of Apple Air Pods, 4 tickets to an Indians vs. Reds game, and a lottery basket to name a few.
In closing, Coach McGee expressed, "The goal of our Meet the Team Night is not solely to raise money for the program, in fact, it isn't even the primary goal. The goal is to celebrate our team, our program, and each other. What makes this team is the people, not the trophies. I have always said if I am going to win I want to be around people I want to celebrate with, and if we lose it is easier to swallow if you go through it with those you love. This event brings us closer together, and it feeds our culture of family."
MEET THE TEAM NIGHT IS AN ANNUAL EVENT HELD ON THE SATURDAY BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL EACH YEAR IN SPRINGFIELD NEAR WITTENBERG UNIVERSITY. ALL PROCEEDS DIRECTLY SUPPORT THE NEEDS OF THE WITTENBERG BASEBAL PROGRAM.