by Steve Mims
Kim and Curt Strahm are used to having a couple of athletic boys in their house.
When their two sons aged out, the couple welcomed in three new boys for the summer as a host family with the Springfield Drifters, which just completed its second season in the West Coast League, a summer college baseball circuit.
“It was fun for us because we miss having boys at home,” Kim Strahm said. “It wasn’t that long ago, so we do remember how much boys eat and sleep.”
That is a common refrain among the families who helped the Drifters provide a home away from home for players during the summer.
“We have a big house and we’re empty-nesters, so it was nice to bring a little action to the house,” said Gary Taylor, who hosted three players along with his wife, Jan. “Jan and I have been married for 30 years so to bring a third and fourth person into the house was a new dynamic and we enjoyed it. Jan is a boys’ mom, she gets along with boys and they respect her so it was nice to have that dynamic in the house and give back to the community and the Drifters.”
The Taylors have two children including 27-year old son Nicholas, who played football and wrestled as a youth.
“We are used to stinky young men,” joked Jan Taylor.
Brian and Canaia McDaniel still have two of their four children living at home, but welcomed in a couple Drifters as well during the summer.
“My kids looked forward to them coming home and it was fun to see the kids gravitate to that,” Brian McDaniel said. “As adults, we’ve raised kids so it is simple for us, but to see the kids get involved was great. If there was ever a recruiting process and the Drifters needed someone for people to call and see how it goes to be a host family, we would be that call.
It was truly a blessing to have those kids in our house and I look forward to next year. It was a great time for our family and a great way to give back.”
The Drifters are taking applications for families looking to host a player from June through August next summer with inquiries being sent to assistant general manager Kyle Whitty by email at [email protected]. The players are on the road for half of the season and return home late after home games and typically sleep in during the morning.
“I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in sports and supporting kids who are doing good things in the community,” Kim Strahm said. “It is a great time of the year with the weather and you can get outside and watch baseball and support them in your home by feeding them and making sure they are taken care of.”
Kim and Curt Strahm, who starred in softball and wrestling, respectively, at the University of Oregon, have two boys who also found athletic success at Sheldon High School and beyond. Connor Strahm played linebacker at Montana while Kellen Strahm plays in the minor leagues for the Texas Rangers.
After hosting pitcher Hunter Dryden in the summer of 2022, the Strahms welcomed him back into their home along with catcher Joe Longo. When Longo left midway through the season, pitcher Kaden Alberghini took his room.
“We didn’t know what to expect that first year so we had one player, but toward the end of the year we wished we had two so that Hunter would have someone to hang out with in his downtime,” Kim Strahm said. “It is surprising how little we saw them because we both work and are gone in the mornings. We would go to the games and about 70 percent of the time, we’d stay up and have dinner and visit with them after the games because we wouldn’t see them if we went to bed early.”
The Strahms had room upstairs for two players including a bathroom.
‘They didn’t have to come down except to eat, and they did that quite a bit,” Kim Strahm joked. “We’d have our grandkids over and the boys would play with them. It felt like a home to them so it was enjoyable.”
The McDaniels welcomed infielder Dawson Santana, a Lakeridge High School graduate who is not playing at Oregon State, before later adding a second player midway through the season.
“The McDaniels were super cool so it was awesome,” Santana said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met and they gave us everything we needed and made sure the house had too much food. They planned around us and gave more than you could ask for. They were cool and super fun people so I was super thankful to be taken in by a family like that.”
The McDaniels took players out on their boat and often found about a dozen of them meeting up in their backyard following a game.
“I think what means the most is getting to know the kids,” Brian McDaniel said. “We would get pizza and put on the TV in our patio and everyone would be laughing. When we bring kids in, they are spoiled rotten from shampoo to food and snacks. We want to make sure they are comfortable and make it an experience that they will remember for a lifetime.”
The Taylors agreed to host catcher Reed Kellum and were later asked by Springfield co-owner Ike Olsson if they could take infielder Jaden Sheppard as well.
“I said that I had another room, but no bed, and the next day Ike had a bed delivered to our house so we had no choice but to take two,” Gary Taylor said.
Kellum arrived from Tulane and Sheppard from Fresno State.
“I was hesitant at first because Gary travels a lot so I was hesitant to have young men that I didn’t know in my house when my husband was gone,” Jan Taylor said. “Once we made the decision to do it, Reed’s profile said he was from Mississippi and going to Tulane and my whole family is from Louisiana so I thought ‘He’s my people’. He was great, respectful and easy to get along with. When we got Jayden, one of his grandmothers’s was from Mississippi so we could not have planned it better.”