A large chant of “Teddy, Teddy” was heard by hundreds on a warm summer afternoon at the West River Community Center pool on Thursday, July 18th. The Badlands Big Sticks mascot reluctantly granted the children chanting his name their wish — hopping into the pool with a splash.
The Big Sticks arrived at 2 p.m. for Swimming with the Big Sticks, a fun-filled afternoon of swimming and kid-friendly entertainment. The pool was at full capacity with a lengthy line forming outside as folks waited their turn to join in on the fun.
Several Big Sticks players went down slides with children and throughout the pool players were tossing kids up in the air.
“Our community in Dickinson and the surrounding areas have really welcomed the Big Sticks over the last two years. Any opportunity that we get to give back to our community, our fans and everyone who supports us, then we are going to do it,” said Big Sticks General Manager Jason Watson. “On a beautiful afternoon like this, our guys love the pool too. They get to come out and the kids get to see that they are actually real people and not just a guy wearing a uniform on the baseball field. It is awesome for all the kids and our guys.”
The event drew in visitors from near and far, including athletes participating in the Cal Ripken 10-year-old regional baseball tournament slated to be held in Dickinson this weekend. Among the many teams were a number from Baxter, Minnesota, as well as visitors from even further states.
Caleb Doughty, 10, was there with his dad Reed and brother Sam. Caleb said the event was awesome. His favorite part was seeing the Big Sticks players going down the water slides.
“It is really neat. I know they haven’t made it to the big time yet but this is just part of it. It is part of giving back to the community and letting the younger kids see them,” said Reed Doughty. “We get to go to a game Friday and watch them play. To be able to put a name to face going into the game will be fun.”
Throughout the afternoon, there were giveaways from the organization for the children. Game tickets and Big Sticks gear were the main prizes.
“The biggest thing we are here to do is to give the community something to enjoy (during) our short summer season,” said Big Sticks Owner Dave Ouellette. “The biggest part of it is making the kids happy, because if the kids are happy, then the parents are happy. We want to get the kids involved in everything we do. The players that are playing summer collegiate baseball here all started out just like these kids. They wanted to be like the big kids. We want them to be good role models for all the younger kids.”