Each season, the IronBirds players are fortunate enough to live with local families who house them and provide them with meals during their season. The host family serves as a crucial support system for the players as they kick off their young careers. Earlier in the week, we spoke to catcher Ben Breazeale about his experience with his host family; this discussion was later followed up by speaking to Laura Wolf, the young woman housing both Ben and outfielder Zach Jarrett.
What got you into watching baseball?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time hanging out with guys. They were always talking and watching sports, meaning by default, I ended up being a part of that too. I went to a lot of games at my high school which fueled my interest in sports and baseball - one that has only grown as I've gotten older. I love going to games and speaking to the coaches and players, or even to fans who are as interested in the game as I am.
Do you have a preference between the Minors and Majors?
Not really, baseball is baseball to me, but I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be the minors. I've gone to so many different ballparks and have gotten to know players and coaches along the way. Getting to know these athletes makes the game more personal. Instead of going to just watch the game, I go to root for specific people. It's a cool experience to be able to support players early on in their journey to the majors, and one not many people get to have.
What made you decide to become a host family?
My boyfriend and I were told by some friends about the host family process, which, prior to the conversation I wasn't aware of. There's an extra room in our home, and growing up with a lot of siblings means I am used to having guests, so I thought it would be a perfect fit. I always enjoy meeting new people and wanted to support younger players with their dreams and all they are working for.
What is something you have learned about the players that you might have not otherwise known, had they not lived with you?
I think until you have the players live with you, or at least talk to them about it, you don't see how much time is truly spent playing the game. Coming into the season, I had a general understanding of games and road trips but having Ben and Zach live with us has shown me how much time is devoted to playing, training, working out, traveling on the road, etc.
Do you have any suggestions for people who might be considering becoming a host family?
If you are interested in baseball or like getting to know new people, it is certainly something you should consider. Both players and other adults who have opened up their homes have shared how much the players enjoy getting to know and spend time with the family they live with, especially if there are younger kids. It is a great system to be a part of and I am very happy with the decision I made to join.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.