FDLTCC fields first-ever collegiate baseball teamThe Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College baseball team is brand-spanking new. The players, the uniforms, the schedule – everything is fresh.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Richard Jubie truly enjoys hunting deer in the fall. Come springtime, though, baseball is his sport of choice.
After graduating from Esko High School, Jubie said he took a year off from the sport when he decided to focus on football at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College a season ago.
On Tuesday, however, Jubie was on the hill pitching for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in the school’s first-ever home baseball game against the Norsemen Tuesday at Braun Park in Cloquet.
The right-handed hurler said it’s good to be back on the diamond playing again.
“I love playing baseball; it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Jubie, a freshman transfer who also plays infield and outfield for the Thunder. “I decided to stay home, save some money and play ball here. It’s been pretty sweet.”
That’s because – unlike most other programs – FDLTCC’s baseball team is brand-spanking new. The players, the uniforms, the schedule – everything is fresh.
Things kick-started over a year ago when Cal Barr was approached by Thunder Athletic Director Keith Turner about the possibility of beginning a baseball program at FDLTCC.
“He knew I was a baseball guy,” said Barr, who played in high school, college and even a few seasons in the minors for the St. Louis Cardinals. “I applied, got the job and heard some guys wanted to play.”
From there, Barr scrounged up around 15 players last spring to take part in an exhibition-like season as a part of a club team for the Thunder.
“We had a 12-game schedule set, but only got to play three games due to weather and conference play taking precedent over club play,” Barr explained. “But I recruited kids all spring and all summer long.”
And just like that, a full-time baseball team was created. Barr said the team has been practicing since mid-February and has practiced outside a couple of times already.
Sporting a 13-man roster as of Monday night, Barr said the school’s first-ever doubleheader was last Thursday night at the Metrodome in a pair of 14-1 and 15-3 five-inning mercy rule losses to a stellar St. Cloud Community and Technical College club ending around 1 a.m.
Barr said the long night was challenging.
“I believe St. Cloud is ranked fourth in the nation, so that was a pretty stiff test,” he said. “We realized that we have lots to work on.”
Although their defense needs to improve, the Thunder proved they can hit the ball. Other local team members include: AlBrook’s Bryce Karppinen, Cody Anderson and Matt Lisic; Barnum’s Bryce Hebert; Cloquet’s Robert Hanson; Duluth’s Travis Magzdas and Tony Klaas; and Moose Lake-Willow River’s Abe Young. Also on the roster are Carlos Holcey, Donnie Roberts, Jack Booth and Remont Thompson.
Last week, Jubie pitched their opener.
“We had a lot of errors,” Jubie said, “but we just have to remain focused all of the time. Coach always says he wants us to get better and better. I think if we come together, we could go around .500.”
Winning percentages aside, Barr said there are many positives.
“We were aware of a lot of firsts last week,” Barr said, noting school-firsts in hits, runs and strikeouts amongst others. “Sure, there were things we didn’t do so well, but we’re focusing on positives and reminding these guys not only to become better baseball players, but better people, too.”
Barr continued to elaborate on the team’s accomplishments.
“These guys have to realize that they are laying the foundation for not only this baseball season, but the future,” he said. “These guys are good athletes and fun to work with. They are just great kids.”