Missouri Southern welcomed the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team to the Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium on Saturday Jan. 18 at noon for their annual Cardinals Caravan. Children under 14 were able to receive tickets to later get autographs from Cardinals representatives.
The event, hosted by the Cardinals, partnered with the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas, to raffle off signed gear from various players.
Rod Surber, Director of Resource Development and Community Engagement at the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas, takes pleasure in seeing the community involvement this event brings.
“This is a great partnership [Southern, The St. Louis Cardinals], that supports the United Way. We fight for the health, education, and financial stability for everyone in every community,” said Surber.
“This event is a way we can raise awareness for our programs and the United Way in general, as well as raise some funds to help support our programs and agencies throughout Southwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas.”
Current players and Alumni answered questions, connected with fans and signed autographs before their next stop at Rolla High School in Rolla, Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 18.
Jordan Hicks, Cardinals pitcher, acknowledges that without fan support, there would be no support, making the Caravan an important part of Cardinal DNA.
“Our stadium sells out a lot and that’s because all of the great fans that make the drive. We have great fans and we should show support when they show support,” said Hicks.
And fans did just that. They lined up waiting to enter the gym, and upon entering the gymnasium was a sea of red. The audience ranged from young kids, to adolescence and even grandparents.
Not only did fans show up to support the team, Southern students came to ensure a successful afternoon.
Southern’s football players volunteered in setting up the gymnasium and handing autograph tickets to the kids.
Jaedon Stoshak, freshman health promotion and wellness major, and wide receiver on the MSSU Football Team, isn’t from the area and helping with this event was a great way for him to get acclimated into the community.
“We want to reach out the the community, promote Missouri Southern Athletics, and show that we care,” said Stoshak.
Southern’s communication students were also able to come out and record, photograph and interview throughout the event.
Judy Stiles, General Manager at KGCS-TV on campus, alongside Bill Hunt, Director of Creative Services at KGCS-TV organized student media representation, allowing students to get professional experience alongside the local news stations.
Tichina Coleman, a senior mass communications major said she was appreciative of the opportunity to interview Cardinals representatives alongside professionals in the business.
“The professionals were helpful and advised us how to professionally run media events,” said Coleman.
The Cardinals Caravan showcased how hard work and determination can make your dreams seem like less of a reach and more of a reality.
As kids flocked the gymnasium to get autographs from their favorite players, fans raised their phones to snap images, and students ran around aiding in event preparation and media coverage. Lane Thomas, Cardinals outfielder, had a piece of advice for children and fans who showed up to support.
“Get out of your comfort zone, that’s how you grow as a person. Get out and see new things, that might kind of frighten you at first, but you’ll be glad you did it.”