International students learn America’s pastime


Molly Schons/The Chart

International students Aditya Malhotra (left) and Maria Julia Lucas Uchoa (right) learn the best way to catch fly balls in the outfield on Monday, April 13.

Baseball is often referred to as America’s pastime. It’s a sport mostly unique to the Americas and variations of the game have been played in the United States since the 1860s. Because of the lifetime exposure to the sport, Americans sometimes overlook the fact that a large portion of the world may have never seen the sport played.

Missouri Southern’s athletics program realized this and saw an opportunity. In conjunction with the MIAA, Southern’s athletics department granted international students studying on campus the opportunity to learn the game from this year’s nationally ranked squad on April 13.

Twenty students from abroad showed up for the event, with home countries ranging from Finland to Saudi Arabia.

“The turnout was really good considering it was cold outside,” said Director of Athletics Marketing Randon Coffey, who helped plan the event. “We also had limited space because of the rotating stations, so we were really happy with the 20 students that came.”

The training session — which lasted for about an hour and a half — was designed to teach the basics of the game.

“We wanted to teach students who may have never seen baseball what the sport is, how it’s played, and let them experience it firsthand instead of just watching it on TV,” said Coffey.

Head coach Bryce Darnell added, “There were a few kids who had never had a glove on before. We just wanted to have fun and let them throw and hit a little bit.”

Going into the event, Darnell thought his players may have looked at it as another responsibility in the middle of a long season. By the end of the day, everyone was having a great time, according to the coach.

“I think our kids enjoyed it as much as the international students,” said Darnell. “We had a couple of the kids tell us that it was the best event they have been to on campus since they have been here. That makes us smile and it makes us proud.”

The event was completely funded through a grant from the MIAA, which takes applications for event ideas that help athletics programs engage with the community.

“We were very honored that our idea was selected,” said Coffey.

The students who participated will be honored guests at Friday’s home game at 1 p.m. against Lincoln University. One participant recognized as the most improved player will throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the game.