Rochester Honkers Host Families: A Home Away From Home

August 03, 2019 07:06 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Every year, collegiate baseball players are recruited from all over the country to play for the Rochester Honkers summer baseball team. Some are here temporarily while others stay the whole season. Regardless of their time on the team, they still need a place to live…

That's where host families come into the picture.


"Everyone's a whole part of this process," Honkers General Manager Jay Fanta said. "The host families are a huge part of this experience for these guys too and obviously a huge part of the recruiting process as well 'cause we do have guys go back to their colleges and tell other guys 'hey we want to go to Rochester because the experience was great.'"

Among all the things a host family tries to do for these players, one of the biggest is to be their home away from home.

"Sometimes the kids are homesick or coming from a really far distance," Amber Hookey, a veteran host, expressed. "So to make them as comfortable as possible is our end goal and to make them a part of our family."

That goal and drive  are especially true for the Rochester Honkers' Host Family Coordinator, Dan Cansino.

"It's really exciting, it's really fun to assist these collegiate players in chasing their baseball dreams and being a part of that," Cansino said.

Dan's involvement goes beyond the administrative level as he is a host himself and has been for 14 years.

Dan has two daughters and when they were younger, his family only hosted one player. Now that they are grown and out of the house, he hosts two, or as he refers to them, his summer sons.

With the season winding down, we decided to go check in with Dan to see how this summer has been going and what it is really like living with a host family. This summer, he is hosting two Oregon State baseball players, Andy Armstrong, whom he hosted last summer, and Kyler McMahan.

"Coming back and living with Dan, I was so excited when I heard the news because obviously I'd known him prior to this year and he was great last year," Armstrong said. "I honestly don't think there is a better host dad out there than him so I'm just very excited."

For some players this is the first time living with a host family but for others it might be their fourth and fifth time. Regardless of the circumstances, living with a host family comes with new rules, expectations, and most of all respect.

"Giving whoever you're moving into full respect of everything they give you cause they're opening their whole house to you…feeding you, just taking care of you like your parents would," McMahan said. "Dan said it a couple of times…it's like summer sons. When his daughters aren't home, we're his summer fun and sons so he takes care of us as long as we give it back and respect him."

This experience is an on-going learning process for both the host families and players.

"Probably these two more so than probably any other players I've had, have really just wanted to know more about me and my family and get to know me," Cansino said. "So, that's been the most special part about these two. They're like my summer best buddies actually…i can't even say anything other than it's amazing, it's cool and one of the best experiences ever."

As the relationship between the host and the players develop, it can also extend to the player's family. In July, Andy's mom came to surprise him and Dan played a big part in setting it up.

"Andy said, 'I knew something was up because Dan never tells me to get up off the couch,'" Susi Armstrong, Andy's Mom, said.

Aside from setting up surprises.

"I think Dan and I've become friends," Susi said. "He's always texting me during a game or sending me pictures, keeping me in the loop. So he's the dad here that's keeping us up on things so it's neat."

It's a transformative experience for everyone involved and for Cansino, the best part is the enrichment the players bring to his life.

"You know, just to be a small part of what these guys are developing into as men, is just a great thing to be a part of," Cansino said. "To dream it along with them, as far as what could be for them after college...that's one of the things I love the most about this whole experience."


Jordyn Reed

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