It’s that time of year again. Spring is here and with it comes March Madness and the start of baseball season. While most teams are just starting up practice outside this early for the first time in years, one local team is doing just that plus more.
The Hudson Valley Community College Vikings have been going through practices all winter long. Some are at 6 AM, some even as late as 11 PM. Whether early in the morning, or late at night, the Vikings have been gifted the ability to play the game that America was founded on, and that game, is baseball. After jumping between All Stars Academy, and the HVCC gymnasium, the Vikings have been able to get back onto their home field of Joseph L. Bruno stadium these past few weeks.
Yesterday, that home field became home for one special person who isn’t as fortunate as the 30 some odd kids who make up the HVCC team. That one kids name is Evan Fronk.
On July 7, 2014, Evan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer that affects nearly 200,000 children every year. He has gone through a series of successful chemotherapy and spinal taps. At the time, Evan was just three years old, but now at the age of 5 he is in the maintenance stage of chemotherapy and still visits the Melodies Center for treatment twice a month.
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 is a day that Evan will always remember. The day that he officially became a member of the Hudson Valley Community College Vikings. Evan visited practice today where he got to meet all the young men that he can now call teammates, and even got to take home a signed baseball. On top of that, Evan got to run practice including getting a few swings in on the best baseball field in the capital region.
As the Vikings prepare for the season, their main challenge is going to be defeating league rival Herkimer, who has won the league each of the past two seasons. But, at the end of the day, no game, no error, no 6 AM workout, can ever compare to the challenges that Evan Fronk goes through every single day of his life.
Not only was this a great experience for Evan, but it was also a remarkable experience for the players of Hudson Valley.
“Having Evan around really put things in perspective for me and I’m sure it’s the same for the rest of the team,” said HVCC freshman Brennan Strovink. “This kid battles cancer and fights for his life. It makes waking up at 5 AM for practice like a joke. It really just shows us how lucky we are to have our health.”
Meeting Evan also seemed to have put a chip on much of the Viking’s shoulders as well. Strovink also added, “he’s an inspiration to me and I’m sure all of my teammates. We aren’t only playing for us, but for him as well. He (Evan) is a part of our family now”.
Evan’s first reaction was one to remember when he first saw the players.
“Evan was a little shy at first but when he walked through the dugout onto the field and saw the team his eyes lit up. It gave me a sense of merriment, he’s been through so much and to then have the courage to come out in front of group of 31 teenagers says a lot.” said Hudson Valley head coach Alex Jurczynski. “He’s a very strong kid that will teach our team a thing or two. What he’s gone through, nobody on our team has experienced and our guys know that.” Jurczynski continued. “Seeing a 5-year-old that’s going through weekly treatments and still has the strength to go in front of a group of college athletes and take charge takes a lot of courage. I have extremely high expectations for this season and with Evan being a part of our team, I’m confident he’ll take our team chemistry to new heights.”
Coach Jurczynski mentioned him being a little nervous at first, but that didn’t last for long.
“Once we all gathered on the field to take pictures and Evan put on a jersey and hat, he immediately responded with pure joy. He felt like a part of the team and all the guys were just wonderful to him. They went right in to high-fives, fist pumps, and encouraging comments. Evan played catch, tried is hand in batting, and even joked around with the team.” said Evan’s mom Laura. “Evan was presented with a signed baseball and a glove of his own. It was obvious that Evan was having a great time. He smiled for nearly 2 hours straight! As his mom, I couldn’t have been happier or amazed with how quickly Evan warmed up to the team and how great they all to him. This was his first experience with any type of team, and he is already hooked. Evan will remember these guys for the rest of his life and it will be a part of the person he will become. Essentially, Evan has 31 new big brothers to encourage him, play with him, inspire him, and model what it means to be a part of a team.”
It gets even better.
As Evan and his mother walked out of Joe Bruno Stadium, Evan said, “baseball is my favorite!”. That’s love at first sight.
“We are extremely grateful to Coach Alex for reaching out to the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and to Albany Medical Center to adopt a kid fighting cancer.” Laura expressed. “Evan fell asleep about 5 minutes after getting into the car. He left it all on the field.”
As the Vikings prepare for the season, their main challenge is going to be defeating league rival Herkimer, who has won the league each of the past two seasons. But, at the end of the day, no game, no errors, no 6 AM workout, can ever compare to the challenges that Evan Fronk goes through every single day of his life.
As Evan goes through his childhood and grows up in his home in Schenectady, NY, he will always have a second home at Joe Bruno Stadium thanks to his experiences yesterday. Even if the smile on Evan’s face only lasted a couple of hours, the memories and happiness that the Vikings gave him today will stay with him and his family forever.
Posted by- Connor Hall
Edited by- Dylan Rossiter