Dugout Crew brings energy to the Itch

By Tony McDaniel

Itchy Jones Stadium was not the only addition to the SIU baseball program this season.

The Salukis created the Dugout Crew: a group of 12 women who help out with on and off field tasks.

The women help at the games by bringing water and extra baseballs to the umpires, and collecting bats from the field after at-bats.  They also throw out t-shirts and help with promotions such as the Saluki Selfie.  The Dugout Crew can also be seen around campus promoting home games at the Itch.

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Nicole Sack is a marketing graduate assistant for Saluki Athletics, and oversees the Dugout Crew.

Sack said the Dugout Crew was something that both the baseball team and the marketing department wanted to help out around the games in replacement of the traditional batboy.

“The idea came from the baseball team,” Sack said. “When the team travels, they see what other universities have. It seemed like a good opportunity with the opening of the stadium… Anytime we have an opportunity to welcome more people to the game we really try and use it.”

Sack said that in order to be a member of the Dugout Crew, they must be committed to the job, and that includes being able to work games during spring break and after the end of the semester, a time when many students are not on campus.

Sack said the women also must have a basic knowledge of the game of baseball, but most of them show a strong passion for the game.

“They all genuinely like baseball,” Sack said. “They all like being there regardless and even when they’re not on duty they are still always there.”

Freshman Hannah Schmitz said she joined because it was a chance to be around one of her favorite sports.

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“My dad is the coach at Eastern Illinois,” she said. “I’ve been around baseball my whole life and whenever I came to SIU I thought it was a good opportunity to be around baseball and start a new organization.”

While the Dugout Crew is not compensated monetarily for the work they do with the team, they were given Under Armour uniforms, which they are allowed to keep.

Sack said Schmitz has stepped into a leadership role with the crew, and Schmitz said she was more than happy to do so.

“Coming from a family where my dad is a baseball coach and knowing the ropes already it just kind of worked out perfectly that I could take over the Dugout Crew and she (Sack) wouldn’t have to do as much,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz said a crucial part of being a member of the Dugout Crew is knowing the game.

“You can’t just go in and hope that someone will tell you what to do,” she said. “You have to know when to go out on to the field and when not to go out on the field, because no one wants to get in trouble from coach Henderson.”

Sack said she fully expects the Dugout Crew to return for the 2015 season, and the marketing department will be able to improve upon this year’s team.

“The [dugout crew] will be even better next year,” Sack said. “We’ve learned a lot about what we can do in general at the stadium, and what works and doesn’t.  I think it will be a lot more fun.”

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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