NEW MARKET — Chase Sudduth doesn’t have any siblings, but when he came to New Market to play for the Rebels in the Valley Baseball League he gained three.
Sudduth is hosted by Will and Keisha Gangwer, of New Market, and their three children, Reice, 12, Harper, 4, and Finleigh, 1.
“They have three kids. I have fun messing with all of them,” Sudduth said. “I don’t have any siblings at home, and I came here and it’s like I have siblings for the first time.”
New Market head coach Zac Cole said that he was told that the Gangwer’s were a little hesitant about hosting a player since they had kids and it was their first time. So he decided to put Sudduth with them because he knew he would be a good fit.
Sudduth has had a special impact on Harper.
“He’s like my little mini-me,” Sudduth said with a laugh. “Whenever I’m at home it’s just me and him just kicking it. It’s definitely a good time. It’s nice to know that I have someone looking up to me in a way.”
Sudduth said that at the Valley Baseball League All-Star game Harper realized that Sudduth was wearing different batting gloves.
Sudduth said that a lot of times at games he can hear Harper cheering for him and he feels a little extra pressure to do well.
“I like to think I’m a pretty good role model,” Sudduth said. “So hopefully I’m setting a good example.”
Will Gangwer, a 1999 Stonewall Jackson graduate, is familiar with hosting a baseball player, as his family hosted Rebels when he and his sister were younger.
He said it made an impact on him, and he was hoping it would do the same for his family and it has.
“My wife was a little bit hesitant, because she had never experienced it before,” Will Gangwer said. “And now that we’ve hit the ground running I think she is hooked. It’s been the same wonderful experience now for my family that it was when I was a kid growing up when my parents did it.”
Will Gangwer said that he couldn’t ask for a better player to host than Sudduth.
“Chase has served as such a positive influence on our three young children, on the baseball diamond and also as a person around our home,” Will Gangwer said. “Despite his busy baseball schedule, Chase has found opportunities to spend time with his summer family. Chase often tells us, ‘We are all family, right?’ Without hesitation, Chase can be spotted picking up a baseball and throwing with Harper, delivering Reice to summer basketball camps, giving Finleigh a fist bump and making her blush, attending their Little League games, spending a day off on the river paddling his new siblings through the Shenandoah River, reading them a book, joining them for Pack’s ice cream. Chase literally, fits our family like a glove.
“It brings us great joy to watch Chase’s baseball journey continue to unfold right in our own back yard. We consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to be a small part of Chase’s baseball dream.”
Will Gangwer said that Reice is on a Little League softball team and Harper is on a Little League tee ball team, and Sudduth has helped both of them with tips on how to improve.
Will Gangwer said that he hopes more people in the community will get involved in the hosting program and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity they have.
He said it will be very tough to say goodbye to Sudduth when he leaves in August.
“Although Chase will only be in our home for two, three months this summer, he will forever be a special part of our family,” Will Gangwer said. “Come August, it will be very difficult to pack this fantastic young man up and send him back South onto the next phase of his baseball journey. We see some family trips to the University of North Georgia in our near future. We are all family, right?”