May 3—Last Wednesday Rotarian members of the local Dickinson chapter enjoyed their meals and politely awaited Badlands Big Sticks' General Manager Jason Watson to begin his presentation. The highlight reel of the excitement and atmosphere, typical of a Big Sticks home game, connected the theme that on the Western Edge, "It's not just about a baseball game."
For a video about a baseball team, it surprisingly had very little baseball as the focus was center stage on the fans and the community involvement that enjoins players, coaches and staff with their home game fans and supporters.
Big Sticks owner David Ouellette spoke about how they want each game to be a pleasurable experience with good food and good fun — but most importantly, an opportunity to support the community through fundraisers.
Of course popcorn, pop and brats are as much part and parcel of a Big Sticks Baseball game as Cracker Jacks is to the game "out east." The presentation highlighted the enjoyment of summer baseball atmospheres, including entertainment provided during lulls in action, before and after the game and much more.
Kids at Big Stick games are invited to participate in games on the field in-between innings and the large amount of fundraising that happens throughout the games provides much needed relief for local community entities. Ouellette explained that "the baseball game is just what gives us the opportunity to bring everybody together."
"Every fundraising night that we have is a success and that is because of our community and the fans in the stands are willing to buy raffle tickets because they know it's going to an organization that is earnest," Watson said. "We are all about supporting the community in every way we can. It is fun and it makes our jobs a fun thing to do."
The events that the Badland Big Sticks put on in between innings are not just family and community oriented, but often include members of the community such as representatives of the Dickinson Police Department, Dickinson Fire Department and local non-profits including Able, Inc.
By presentation's end, local Rotarians were asking — "How can we join in on the fun."
"What seems to fit for us is if we pick a night to go there and have a 50/50 raffle. We haven't picked a night, but we are going to pick a night sometime this summer where our Rotarians will go amongst the crowd and ask people to buy 50/50 tickets," Brad Fong, Dickinson Rotary chapter treasurer, said. "All of us Rotarians were really inspired by how successful Mr. Ouellette has been with the Big Sticks and a couple of us went right down and bought season tickets...We found out that he not only raises money for the Big Sticks, he raises money for other youths baseball programs in town."
As part of the agreed upon programming, Rotarians will keep half of the revenue generated through the 50/50 raffle which will then be used in a variety of their donation projects — including their monthly community service project, schools and vocational scholarships and their international contribution to the renowned Polio Plus project.
Among the various talking points at Rotary was the excitement with weekday games starting a half an hour earlier to allow younger fans enjoy the full experience.
Ouellette announced that effective this season, Monday through Saturday games will now begin at 6:05 p.m., with Sunday games staying at their usual scheduled time.
Watson expressed his gratitude for the community that continues to support the team and expressed on behalf of the Big Sticks the teams desire to do the same in supporting the community.
"Big Sticks would not be able to exist without our community. From host families... to all of our partners throughout the community, business, other families and organizations," Watson said. "It's a great thing and it allows us to have fun and to allow families to come into the ballpark."