SPECIAL REPORT: Making it home - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Making it home

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -- Imagine opening your house to a stranger to live with you for the entire summer. That's life for host families in the Northwoods League.

Baseball players come from across the country to play and live with families right here in central Wisconsin. 

One of them is Jason Freeman. The Texas native is a pitcher going into his senior year at Texas A & M.

"My grandparents both went there, my dad played there also and my older brother went there,” said Freeman. “So it was kind of always in the cards to try and get there myself ." 

With school out for the summer, Freeman is playing ball with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.

Newsline 9 was given an all-access pass into Freeman's life as a Rafter. We even talked to him in the dugout while he was pitching during the game.

"Pretty much just trying to get ahead with fastballs stay ahead try not to get anyone on,” said Freeman. “But one guy got kind of a cheap hit nothing you can really do about that. You just get a big adrenaline rush you're just always excited when it's your opportunity to get out there and try to show people what you can do." 

But playing in the badger state means Freeman is thousands of miles away from home.

That's when the Krueger's of Wisconsin Rapids become his home away from home.

"We really enjoy having the guys here,” said Kevin Krueger. "We kind of talked about it, not sure what we were going to do and we got some things in order, and the boys said we'll give up one room to become a host family." 

The Krueger's are just one family opening their home to players from across the country. The family's newest addition is settling in. 

"I just wake up, eat breakfast, they usually offer to make breakfast,” said Freeman. “I sat around the living room and played the two kids in Nintendo Wii all day and waited for the game." 

The Kruegers say games are their favorite time of day.

"It makes the games more fun to watch when you have a little bit of a connection and know somebody on the field,” said Susan Krueger.

"It's like we're proud parents for another kid,” said Kevin Krueger.

Freeman says he is thankful for the Krueger's support at and away from the diamond.

"You get a little nervous at first but they made it easy and always checking in on what I need,” said Freeman.

So why host a player for the summer? For the Krueger's, motivation isn't financial.

"We're not looking into it to get paid," said Kevin Krueger.

They say they do it for the love of the game, and they're compensated with Rafters season tickets.

"We just want the players to enjoy Wisconsin Rapids and to be able to play some baseball for the summer,” said Krueger.

But as a second year host family, the Krueger's know the summer, the season, and their guest will all be gone too soon.

"Last year the first time around I didn't think I’d get the connection or the bond, but I cried like a baby," said Susan Krueger.

But you can bet they'll keep an eye on their player.

"It would be kind of cool to see them playing on an everyday basis at the next level and saying hey he was actually at our house," said Kevin Krueger.

The house they made his home..
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