As we start to look back at our first Florida Collegiate Summer League baseball season in Winter Garden, and I reflect on the last 11 months, all I can say is “Wow” and “Thank you.”
“Wow” because it has gone by so fast since we first announced that we were going to have a team in Winter Garden, and “Thank you” to the numerous folks who helped make this dream a reality.
The list is long and extensive so please pardon me as I say thanks to quite a few people who made our first season a success.
First and foremost, thank you to the West Orange Times for being a big supporter of ours this year. You guys share in our vision for this community and it showed week in and week out in the coverage you gave us. Thank you Dawn, Steve, Cindy, and the rest of the WOT staff for helping us get out to the community.
Thank you to the host families who welcomed over 20 college kids into their homes without really knowing what to expect. These families opened their homes to kids they didn’t know and had only met over the phone or through email. By the end of the summer, lifelong friendships were made along with some cherished memories. It is my hope that you will want to do it again next year.
Thank you to the players and coaching staff for being patient as we shared on our successes and struggles, both on the field and off. Coach Ruben Felix set the expectations on Day One about being professional both on the field and off — you met those expectations, and exceeded them.
Thank you to our interns and team staff. Without you guys, our team would have not have seen the success that it did both on game days and in our community. Ryan Medley, Scott Huskins, Katie Dwyer, Jason Negron and Keith Hellebrand — we are indebted to you forever for all the work that you have done.
All of you have a bright future ahead in whatever career path you choose. A special congratulations to Katie and Keith for being named league-wide interns of the year for team operations and broadcast journalism — we were the only team in the league with two award-winning interns.
Thank you to the Roper YMCA for providing our players a place to work out during the summer. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated by our players and staff. We look forward to working with you more in the years ahead.
Thank you to all of the restaurants who provided team meals to our team, the opposing team and our staff throughout the summer. We were the first team to provide meals to our opponents in our league’s history and we look forward to continuing that tradition in the summers ahead. We truly appreciate your generosity and hope you enjoyed providing food to our players.
Thank you to our Winter Garden Squeeze Advisory Board, led by Ed Williams and Bobby Olszewski, for your leadership and guidance throughout our first season. Your input and support did not go unnoticed and is truly appreciated. To those of you who donated your time and talents to this team and our league, I can’t say thank you enough for all of your work
To our fans in Winter Garden and the surrounding Southwest Orange County area — thank you for making our first season in the FCSL a great success. Whether you were a Little Leaguer from Winter Garden, WIndermere, or Ocoee, we appreciate you and your families being at the games,
If you were that retired couple who made it to almost every game, thank you for your support as well, along with those folks who experienced their first baseball game. We got to know a lot of you this year and look forward to getting to know more of you in the years ahead.
Finally, to my family, thank you for letting Daddy work with all of these wonderful people mentioned in this letter during this summer to remember. I know I was gone a great deal and I truly appreciate all of your love and support not only to me but for our team in our community. Wrigley Bear, you are the Squeeze’s biggest fan and I love that you never missed a game with me all summer.
Til’ Next Summer — #gosqueeze.
Editor’s note: Adam Bates is the General Manager for the Winter Garden Squeeze. He can be reached via email at [email protected] for any questions about becoming a host family, sponsorship or anything else regard the Squeeze.