With the Super Bowl behind us, T-200 sled dog race canceled for lack of snow and no playoffs in sight for the Brown Bears, the Peninsula Oilers moved to center stage for local sport fans last week at their annual Gusher Gala Fundraiser. “It’s never too early for baseball fever,” says Peninsula Oilers Board President Michael Tice. “We’re looking at a great season this summer with a returning coach, but we are looking for some more host families for our players,” he told the Dispatch. Players come from all across America according to Tice and hosting them can be a great experience, “For many of the players it’s there first time to come to Alaska and it’s very fun to show them our state,” said Diana Tice who have hosted a player every year since 2000.
Oiler fans Gary and Sharon Hale have been hosting players for over 25 years and were at the Gusher raising funds for the team, “We have shared our home with many interesting and friendly young baseball students from all over the country, most of whom had big ambitions to play Major League Baseball and others who just wanted an opportunity to do something they loved and spend the summer in Alaska. A couple of them have gone on to play professional ball and how cool it is to turn on the TV or the computer and watch them play and just know that you know them and had a small part in their future. At first we only housed one player, but for the last several years we have taken two as they keep each other company. When we first started our youngest son was only 3 and he would hang out with the boys, pretty much latching on to all of them. They would play with him and throughout the years his skills would improve as players taught him what they knew. He developed great friendships with several of them, as have Gary and I and we still stay in contact with a few of them. We have been able to show them a small part of Alaska and at the same time watch the players and enjoy the game we love” said Hale who added, “All of the players are treated like members of the family, which includes following the house rules. We feed and house them and sometimes have spent many hours into the wee hours of the morning after games, talking about baseball and college and life. They become part of our family and I cry when they leave,” said Hale.
Recalling last year the day after her players arrived Sharon said, “That next morning we fixed them all breakfast and I decided that we should walk to Kaladi’s for coffee and the whole way there these boys from the city were looking for moose or bears or whatever to come out of the woods at us while walking down Kobuk,” she laughed, “Of course that didn’t happen so we took them sightseeing to the dump where the say dozens of eagles, one of them didn’t know what dump was and had never seen so many eagles. After that, our two players were hooked on Kaladi’s and the dump. When they called their parents to let them know they had gotten here ok the first thing they told them about was how their very first Alaska experience had been the dump. We still text back and forth regularly and send pictures of the eagles. They always know where we are. Housing Oilers is one of the most rewarding and fun things we do every year and everyone should experience it,” she said. For information about housing an Oiler or sponsoring a game for the coming season call Diana at 283-7133 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. “With projections for a record breaking tourist season this summer we hope that everyone large or small who is in the tourist industry will remember the Oiler games are a great Alaskan experience and a great place to get your message out,” said Tice.