Youth Baseball

Indiana Elite makes it a team effort at St. Baldrick's event

2014-04-11T22:00:00Z Indiana Elite makes it a team effort at St. Baldrick's eventJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

Jake Chatel gets about five haircuts a year.

"I like to keep it short in the summer," he said. "During the winter, I let it grow out."

That just makes his annual spring buzz-cut even more significant.

"I've been doing it for the past four years," Jake said of his continued participation in St. Baldrick's Foundation's events where people procure pledges in the fight against childhood cancers while vowing to have their heads shaved.

"My dad's brother died of cancer when he was 18 years old," Jake said. "I wasn't around then to meet him, but I still wanted to do something in his honor."

For the St. Baldrick's event at Danny Z's in Munster on March 22, Jake recruited three of his teammates from the Indiana Elite 13U baseball team.

"At first, I didn't want to do it," said Zack Buss, who was joined by Anthony Ruffalo and Zack Writt. "I didn't know how it would look on me.

"But it's a good cause, and I'll probably do it again."

Unbeknownst to the foursome, another Indiana Elite team was set to make a hair-style statement.

"I originally was going to do it by myself," said Eric Moore, manager for the Indiana Elite 11U team, "but then Katie Noren, our unofficial 'team mom', suggested it would be nice if the whole team got involved."

That resulted in eight Indiana Elite 11U players getting buzz-cuts, while other team members volunteered in other capacities at the event and during the pledge drive.

Like their manager, this was the first time many of the players were willing to get cut for the cause. Though for Caleb Johnson, it was his second event.

"But doing it with your team and coaches is so much better," Caleb said. "I think it has really helped us bond together."

For both Indiana Elite teams, the upcoming season will be their first. They have spent much of the winter training indoors at Indiana Elite Baseball and Softball Facility in Cedar Lake, and are due to start playing this weekend.

"We've been working on the fundamentals, and hopefully we'll have some success this first season," Moore said. "But not only do we want to build champions on the field, we want to build champions off the field as well.

"Our kids know how fortunate they are, and for them to get together to do a selfless act like this is a great way to build team character."

Several parents, relatives and friends of the Indiana Elite baseball players also joined in to help raise nearly $9,000.

"They had other things going on there to raise money," Noren said. "Like the DJ wouldn't stop playing a song no one liked until someone made a pledge for him to change it."

Ethan Myszak, who plays for the Indiana Elite 12U team, raised an additional $100 by performing a "clip"-tease.

"He left a spot on top of his head unshaved and claimed he would leave it there if no one donated more money for him to remove it," Noren said.

Thankfully, the ransom was paid and Ethan was spared the humiliation of walking around in public with the world's worst haircut.

"Maybe next time I'll do it again and ask for more money," Ethan said.

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