For the love of the game

Photo contributed. Above: Former White Sox player Mike Huff talks to the kids and Loras students about his love of baseball and sports.

This past Saturday, Feb. 17, the Loras College Sports Management program assisted in putting on the Second Annual Cards for Kids Show for local youth in the Greater Dubuque Area. The card show dates all the way back to 2005 when Craig Reuter, the event’s original coordinator, came up with an idea for kids to embrace a hobby involving personal interaction with others in a time where cell phones were becoming a social concern for him. Reuter himself remembered how much he loved collecting sports cards and wanted to share this joy with today’s youth.

Many of the kid vendors have been participating in this hobby for years, finding great joy in it and often looking forward to card show events like these. Cards for Kids is especially enjoyable because the parameters only allow for kids ranging from kindergarten to seniors in high school to participate, making it an event exclusively for youth. This was another reason Reuter started the event – because it wasn’t about the money. It was about the hobby. That’s exactly the legacy the Loras Sports Management program wanted to continue when they were given the opportunity to take the reins on the event.

Senior Brian Wulf of the Sports Management program had a lot of things to say in regards to the behind-the-scenes planning of the event and how it helped him apply what he was learning in the classroom to a real world scenario.

“I think the biggest thing is the event planning,” said Wulf. “Event planning involves so much. It starts with strategy: how are we going to achieve a b c all the way to z? It involves communication skills: who do we have to talk to in order to get certain things done? It includes teamwork: where does everyone fit in the puzzle? And of course it entails sales: how are we going to sell this event to people and get them in here? These are all things we have to learn about in the Sports Management program and it was great to have a chance to put them to use.”

“I collected cards as a kid and it’s really great to see others still doing the same,” said junior Cole Hansen. “When Dr. Garrett asked me to help I knew I had to jump at the chance, not only for the practical experience but because of what this event stands for. I think events like these really encompass what we’re trying to do here in the Sports Management program: use practical skills to help preserve a universal love for sports.”

This year the Cards for Kids event brought in numerous sport fans to help support these kids and their hobby. The Sports Management program was even able to bring in professional athletes Mike Huff and McKenna Haase to speak with the kids and bond over their mutual love for sports.

“I love coming to these things because of the people. It’s all about the people for me,” said Huff, a former Major League baseball player. “They may not be baseball fans, and they may not even know who I am. That doesn’t matter though. What matters is the bond everyone who steps through this door has, that is, the love of sports.”

“I do remember opening packs of gum and getting the cards inside them,” Huff said when asked if he collected cards as a kid. “I even remember going back and buying a second pack of gum because the first pack of cards didn’t have any of the players I wanted in them.” Huff not only talked to the kids and signed autographs, but also led a hitting clinic before and after the show.”

“The highlight of my career is working with youth,” said race car driver Haase, who was just as glad to be at the event. “I have a driver development program where I get to work with aspiring young drivers and expand on their talents.”

Cards for Kids brought in significantly larger numbers than the previous year, allowing the kids to meet more individuals who encourage and support their hobby. The event has become a tradition for many kids, including Reuter’s, the first vendor to attend the event from kindergarten to the end of high school.

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Benjamin Cowell is a staff writer for The Lorian.

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