Ranked No. 6 in the latest NJCAA Division I baseball polls with an 8-1 overall record entering today’s 3 p.m. doubleheader against No. 1 Iowa Western at Roughrider Field, the Crowder Roughriders have a lot to be proud of this early in the season.
And, while the performance on the field has been outstanding, the performance of, well, their field has been just as good — despite taking frigid temperatures and several inches of snow the past week.
From players to coaches and anyone else with a garden tool that’s been willing to help, the baseball program has been able to transform Roughrider field into one of the premier junior college facilities in the nation.
A sort of silent partner, so to speak, of this success stands in the background, ready and willing to lend a hand in any way possible — the Crowder Baseball Alumni Association.
The association, with some 250 registered members, has been a huge benefit to the Roughriders not only through raising funds, but also through the support they’ve shown to coach Travis Lallemand’s program.
“They raise some money for us, but I think more importantly there is the support they give us,” Lallemand said. “Just the support of the program we get from some of the guys who have played here is tremendous. It’s something that you can’t really put a price on.”
Lallemand said that the funds raised are often put towards improvement of the field.
“We try to do something with (the funds) that our players will benefit from,” Lallemand said.
That approach, according to Crowder Baseball Alumni Association president Joe Ketchum, has likely helped the program on numerous occasions in the recruiting process.
“Our field is probably a major recruiting tool,” Ketchum said. “It’s probably one of the nicer junior college fields out there. A lot of credit goes to coach Lallemand for putting (the funds) to use.
“He’s a great coach, he does a great job and we’re very lucky to have him,” he added. “And we do as much as we can to help support him.”
With various fundraisers held throughout the year, Ketchum says the main fundraiser occurs in October when the association gathers to raise funds around the alumni game and annual golf tournament at the Neosho Golf Course. There the association raises funds around the tournament, a catered meal and auction, among other things.
And, while a bad economy has perhaps limited the intake in recent years, the golf tournament itself has grown, Ketchum says, from just a few golfers when he came aboard to as many as 20 teams, and between 50-75 banquet attendees at the last event. Still, there’s room for improvement, he says. They’re always looking to grow their numbers and gain further support. In fact, they send out some $600 worth of mailings annually doing just that, according to Ketchum.
Page 2 of 2 - “What I would love to see is that we could raise enough money to turf that whole field,” Ketchum said. “We’re always looking for more ideas from the community. The schools, because of the economy, they need that support. That’s why we do this; to help support our program and give the coaches any help we can.
“It’s a good organization,” he said. “We’ve got a strong alumni.”
Anyone interested in sharing ideas, joining, donating or otherwise assisting the program, or for any questions, may contact Ketchum by phone at 417-529-3449, or by email at email@example.com.