Weather Forecast


Roosevelt Stars battle from behind but lose to Willmar Stingers in kickball game

Willmar physical education teacher Larry Selchow shows his form as he sends a ball sailing into the infield Monday during the annual kickball game between the Willmar Stingers baseball players and Roosevelt Elementary School teachers. (Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf)1 / 2
Willmar Roosevelt Elementary School students stand Monday for the national anthem before their teachers square off against the Willmar Stingers in kickball. The game has become an annual tradition for the last day of school. (Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf)2 / 2

WILLMAR — The old saying, “I could beat you with one hand tied behind my back,” took on new meaning Monday morning.

The Willmar Stingers players each tucked one arm into their jerseys for a couple innings, and some of them even played blindfolded, but they still won the annual kickball game with Roosevelt Elementary teachers on a score of 7-5.

The last-day-of-school tradition began several years ago. Roosevelt is close enough for students to walk to Bill Taunton stadium, and the teachers have been willing to pit themselves against a team of college baseball players from the Stingers roster.

The event began with the sweet voices of more than 900 elementary children singing the national anthem. Things went downhill from there for their teachers.

Soon, the teachers were down 2-0, then, with some help from the grinning Stingers, 5-3.

The kids cheered loud, and the screaming and stomping was deafening when a teacher caught a fly ball. The teachers, called the Roosevelt Stars, were dressed in black or red Roosevelt T-shirts and red and white Zubaz pants.

The Stingers went out ahead early, scoring steadily, while the teachers struggled.

Coach Lee Gauer eventually took the announcer’s microphone to ask the team’s fans to cheer still louder to propel their team to victory.

The kids’ loyalty was tested a bit when the Stingers mascot Barry took a turn at bat, chanting, “Barry! Barry!” Barry was sorely disappointed when he was thrown out at first.

When the deafening cheering didn’t help the team, Gauer was heard talking to the Stingers players on the sidelines while the Stars were in the field.

“How can we beat you?” he said. “Just let us beat you one year.”

One player piped up, “We’re too competitive for that. Sorry, I’m not throwing a game.”

With the Stingers using one arm each, the teachers tied the score at 5-5. But some of the players could still catch a pop-up and field the ball using one arm, so the teachers continued to struggle. In their last at bat, the Stingers scored two more runs to win the game.

Stingers manager Brent Saberhagen, who also pitched for his team, said the team had looked forward to the game. It’s his first year in Willmar, but he’s played in similar games in Alexandria, he said.

“It’s a good time to get together and do something for the community,” he said. “We have a lot of fun.”

At the end, Gauer said, even begging the opposing team hadn’t been a winning strategy. “They were trying to help us out, and we still couldn’t win.”

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340