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Big Leaguer Returns to College Roots to Give Back
Gandy Henry
JMC 215

The UNK baseball team put on their best duds for their annual pre-season banquet on Sat., Jan. 22 at the Kearney Holiday Inn. The banquet serves the purpose of celebrating the previous season and looking forward to the current one, as well as to raising funds for the program. The banquet included a catered dinner and a live and silent auction.  

Joba Chamberlain, a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees who was a member of the UNK baseball team in 2004 before transferring to UNL to play for the Huskers for two years supported the Lopers at the banquet. At UNL, Chamberlain helped lead the Huskers to the College World Series in 2005 and was drafted 41st overall by the New York Yankees in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.  

Chamberlain donated his signed jersey, cleats and baseball to the live auction as well as a golf trip with Coach Damon Day in Kansas City, followed by tickets to a Yankees-Royals game.

The banquet helped to showcase this year’s team as well as raise over $25,000 for the baseball program. Other items for sale in the auction were several golf trips, signed memorabilia, food and wine packages, hunting trips and gear, tickets for suites at UNK and UNL sporting events and a Ndamukong Suh Detroit Lions Jersey.

Chamberlain also made a short speech in which he thanked Coach Day for giving him a spot on the UNK team and giving him his first college opportunity. Chamberlain spoke of his family and credited Coach Day with setting an example of how to be a good father.

Four 2010 seniors also spoke: Ben Townsend, Ryan Seefus, Blake Cover and Jared Loschen.  Each player thanked Coach Day and the coaching staff, the parents, the players and the Kearney community for their support. Each member of the team was introduced and academic and team awards were handed out for last year. Cover, who set the career hits record last year (269), was named offensive MVP. Loschen, a pitcher who set the career wins record (27), was named defensive MVP.  

This year’s team opens the season on Feb. 19 in Emporia Kan. against in-state rival Wayne State.  UNK will play UNL on March 2 for the Huskers home opener in Lincoln, NE. The Lopers are picked to win the 2011 Plains Division, and are led by 18 seniors.

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