Though organized sports have been put on hold due to COVID-19, two local players and crosstown rivals have found a way to come together off the field for a good cause.
Naperville North baseball player Jacob Scharm and Naperville Central player Kyle Steele, joined forces to raise money for the Naperville Education Foundation.
Meeting on the Mound
The rivals first met while pitching against each other in the DVC baseball tournament a year ago. Now the two are teammates in fundraising with proceeds going to the NEF Kid Booster Crisis Fund, which helps provide food, shelter and basic needs for their fellow District 203 families.
“When the season got canceled, we wanted to find a way to represent our programs and do something good because we couldn’t play baseball and we had a lot of extra time,” said Scharm. “After researching and talking to NEF we found out that kids in our own classrooms in our community and those families were really struggling. We thought that was a perfect way to tie in baseball and help the community.”
Raising Money Through Raffles
In addition to accepting donations, the crosstown rivals set up weekly raffles with prizes like dinner and dessert for a family of 4, courtesy of Belgio’s Catering and DeEtta’s Bakery.
Scharm and Steele are also raffling off memorabilia from local Major League Baseball players. Nick Solak of the Texas Rangers, who graduated from North and Nicky Lopez of the Kansas City Royals, a Central grad, both donated signed bats and jerseys. The first 7 donations of $250 or more from each high school will earn the opportunity for their child to be honorary captain and bat kid for a North or Central game in 2021.
Steele: “We’re pretty excited about the prizes that we came up with, there’s a lot of cool stuff. But bat boy I think is special because it will give kids who are little and looking forward to playing baseball at Central a chance to spend time with all the players. They’ll get to be in the booth upstairs doing some commentating, my parents are doing commentating next year so they’ll get to do that. It will be a good experience.”
Putting Rivalries Aside
Although the rivalry between Naperville North and Naperville Central is as intense as it gets in the state of Illinois, the schools often come together to raise money for charities through organizations like the Swifty Foundation and NEF.
Scharm: “Obviously North and Central in every sport, it’s always packed; the games are loud and energetic. But it’s really more than just sports in this case. We thought with NEF it encompasses the entirety of District 203 and a lot of kids in our classrooms and our sibling’s classrooms that are really struggling right now with COVID. Their families are losing jobs and are unable pay for basic needs. We just thought that by uniting both high schools, despite the intense rivalry, we could get a lot of donations and hopefully make lives easier for kids and families during this time.”
Though these crosstown rivals missed out on their junior seasons, a chance to help their classmates has filled the void.
Steele: “It’s been a lot of work to keep spreading it around, keep the motivation going. I think so far we’ve made just over $3,500. I think people are excited to help NEF and support the baseball programs because everyone is missing it a little extra right now.”
The final raffle drawings are June 1st.
For Naperville News 17, I’m Justin Cornwell