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High School Highlights

Steve Robinson Photo
Steve Robinson

Oh, Say Can You See…Either Singing The National Anthem, Or Watching Unit 5 Baseball?

Spring has finally arrived (in spite of a late snow shower earlier this week). And spring means one thing for many of us: Baseball season. This column will highlight a couple of events taking place at The Corn Crib in north Normal that high school, junior high school, and their families and friends will want to make note of.
First, on Saturday, April 19, the Normal CornBelters, our town’s Frontier League team, is holding auditions for National Anthem singers, starting at 9 a.m. at the ball park. According to CornBelters General Manager Kyle Kreger, the team is holding auditions to fill dates still open on their schedule where they do not already have a singer scheduled.
Many times, Kreger said, the team has a singer already scheduled from among their group ticket package holders, many of whom have someone who gets invited to sing the anthem. “We listen to a CD or a tape that groups provide ahead of time,” Kreger explained. “But we don’t fill up every single game just with members of group outings or package ticket holders to sing the National Anthem.”
Kreger explained the team’s in-game entertainment coordinator, Jeff Holtke, will be overseeing the tryout session. “Anyone from the community who has sung the National Anthem before or feels they could sing the National Anthem, prior to one of our games is more than welcome to come out and show us what they can do. If there were any high school or junior high kids that came out and wanted to try out, that would be great.”
To Kreger’s way of thinking, having high school and junior high students try out for the opportunity “would show, musically, what we have going on in the area,” he said. “It’s great that we have a diverse group of people throughout the season singing the anthem. And if we had junior high school or high school students come out, that would be fantastic for us.”
And more so, I would think it would be fantastic for the community, too. I agree with Kreger on that point. There were a number of high school and junior high students who performed at Illinois State University basketball games this past season, and did very well. Giving the CornBelters audition a try would be a plus for the students trying out as well as the team, and of course, the fans.
Those auditioning Saturday would be singing the song for Hartke and do not need to bring an audition tape with them, Kreger said. “We’ve had bands do it, you can be a duet, whoever wants to try out is welcome.” And who knows….? Perhaps a young person or group of young people in junior high or high school will find out about this and decide to audition. It would be interesting to see what kind of young people the audition draws. Here’s hoping a few (or maybe more than a few) get chosen.
On another note related to The Corn Crib, the annual Unit 5 high school baseball rivalry picks up at the ball park between the Normal Community High School Ironmen and the Wildcats of Normal Community West High School this coming week. On Tuesday, April 22, NCHS will be the home team when the two sides meet, and on Thursday, April 24, Normal West will be in the home dugout. Both games each of those days will start at 4:30p.m.
Ironmen and Wildcats players have gotten a taste of the larger venue since 2011 after The Corn Crib opened in June 2010. There will be an admission fee of $3 for students and adults alike for the contests. Students will not be able to use their school activity passes to get in. That was possible in previous years, though.
Kreger explained that, in previous years, a marketing agreement with Heartland Community College, which uses the ball park for baseball and soccer; the CornBelters, and other high schools in the region, stipulated the schools could use the ball park free of charge because HCC agreed to pay the fees necessary during negotiations with the team. But HCC has now opted not to renew that portion of the contract, Kreger explained.
“We didn’t want Normal Community and Normal West to go away,” Kreger said. “We wanted Normal Community and Normal West to come out here again this year and have each of them have their home games here. But we also couldn’t just say to them, ‘come out and play for free’ because that wouldn’t be fair to all the other high school teams we work with.”
Personally, the idea of snow flurries in the forecast earlier this week sent a chill through me – and others – literally, I’m sure. But the notion of wearing a light jacket while sitting in a Corn Crib seat watching local high school kids carry on with their season gives one a warm feeling. And who knows…? Maybe by the first pitches of those two games, the weather will be warmer, too.


Corn Kernels
News about the Normal CornBelters

Steve Robinson Photo
Steve Robinson

Coming Soon!

Opening Night - Friday May 16th

Redbird Football Spring Showcase Set for Saturday, April 26
It’s spring football season once again at Illinois State and the Redbirds will wrap up their spring workouts with a day full of free family fun, food and football Saturday, April 26, at Hancock Stadium.
The day’s activities will begin with the sixth-annual Kids Football Fest on the playing field at Hancock Stadium, weather permitting. The event is free and open to all Reggie’s Kids Club members ages 12 and under with adult supervision.  Those who aren’t members of Reggie’s Kids Club can sign up at GoRedbirds.com.  Registration opens at 9:45 a.m., with the program starting at 10:30 a.m., running until noon.  To register for the event, click here.
Head football coach Brock Spack will be in attendance to talk with all the participants and offer some words of advice on the importance of staying active and playing sports. Activities include a catching station with the Redbird quarterbacks, a field goal station with the Redbird kickers, throwing accuracy, tackling stations and an obstacle course. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to dress up like a Redbird football player and get their picture taken with the ISU cheerleaders and Reggie.
Fans can then attend the Redbird Barbecue, which will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on the grass berm at the north end of Hancock Stadium. For $5, a lunch of a hot dog or hamburger, side dish, chips, cookie and a drink will be served prior to the start of the annual Spring Showcase beginning at 1 p.m.
The Spring Showcase is the culmination of a 15-session spring workout period for the Redbirds.  The event is free to the public and will be broadcast live on WJBC AM 1230, with Dick Luedke and Ted Schmitz on the call and Craig Bertsche checking in with sideline interviews.  Throughout the event, fans will have the chance to hear about offseason workouts and newcomers who have made an impact during spring workouts and also hear from coach Spack, who will join the broadcast and sha
re his thoughts on the spring.

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