VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (EHOURL)- The Norfolk Tides have been making plays on the field all season long, rolling to a first half International League championship. Tuesday found the team making an even bigger impact on the communities that cheer it on.
It was a rare Tuesday off for the squad, which wrapped up the first half of the campaign atop the standings. Coaches and players could have easily opted to get some extra rest or some addition work in on the field. Instead they went to bat for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.
“We’re all out here just helping out with the Foodbank, pretty much just trying to do some heavy lifting,” said Joe Gregory, the team’s general manager. “We’re just taking orders today, so whatever we can do to help, we’re out here to do it.”
“We’re getting a look inside the Foodbank, just kind of how it works, all the people, the hard work that they put into it and just coming out here to help,” starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez added.
The team was on hand at the Chapel Food Pantry off of Laskin Road in Virginia Beach. It’s a venue that serves approximately 600 families each week. The players and coaches spent some of their afternoons filling bins, unloading trucks and getting the pantry set up and ready for the people who would be visiting later in the day.
“These are our local athletic heroes,” pointed out Christopher Tan, the president and CEO of the Foodbank. “Kids look up to them. They get to see them play every day and they’re meeting our summer hunger heroes, the people that feed 600 people a week.”
“I guess a lot of people might not see it or drive past it every day and hopefully we can get a lot more people out here thinking about it,” Rodriguez said.
The Tides took advantage of their chance to make a play for those in the community who could use a helping hand. Players on site were happy to step out of the stadium and extend that hand.
“We kind of see the ballpark and that’s it,” noted Rodriguez. “We really don’t get out, venture out into the community too much so this is a really good opportunity to do that.”
“It’s always good to give back to an area, no matter where it’s at,” said Norfolk outfielder Heston Kjerstad. “Whether you’re from there or just there for a little bit to play baseball, it’s always good to get involved.”
Tuesday’s experience was one that was valuable for those who lent a hand and one that stretches far beyond the game. It’s also something that doesn’t require any baseball skills to knock it out of the park, meaning anybody can volunteer to help at any time.
“There’s always people going through tough times,” Kjerstad pointed out. “They just need a little boost to get through something or whatever, so it’s always good to give back.”
“It’s about community,” added Rodriguez. “Anything that you can do that helps, they’re greatly appreciative of that and definitely the people are appreciative of it as well.”
In addition to helping with the food pantry on Tuesday, Tides players visited with the Roc Solid Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club.
Norfolk resumes its season on Wednesday when it opens a six game series against Charlotte at Harbor Park. First pitch is set for 6:35 PM.