LPGA Golfers and Loons Players Enjoy Renewed Opportunity to Have Foster Families

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Sometimes it is a nice place to stay, a tradition or a home cooked meal. Regardless, host families are an integral part of the LPGA Tour and Great Lakes Loons, as well as the Dow Tennis Classic.

With the LPGA tour in town this week for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational – scheduled Wednesday through Saturday at Midland Country Club – host families are back after being temporarily turned away due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Around 40% of LPGA Tour players will stay with families in Midland in 2021, sparking excitement and carrying on a tradition for the young tournament.

Players will often stay with local families to save money on travel and hotels, but also to connect with locals to build excitement for tournaments or games, depending on the sport.

One of the reigning Dow GLBI Champions Cydney Clanton has said she is not staying with a host family in Midland, but has done so at other tournaments in the past. For most players, it just depends on the tournament. Clanton said she appreciates and appreciates what the host families have done for the game.

“I have stayed in accommodation at many tournaments and have stayed with some of the same (families) year after year, six or eight years,” Clanton said. “(In) 2019 I stayed in an airbnb and I stayed 40 minutes, and I think Jasmine (Suwannapura, Clanton’s teammate) stayed at the H hotel right in the city center. So this year, I wanted to make things a little easier. So we’re right (both of us) downtown at Hotel H. “

Two of the tour’s top superstars, Danielle Kang and Lydia Ko, are scheduled to attend this week. Kang said host families are very important and have formed a relationship with a family in Arkansas, home of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Ko, for her part, travels more with her family and does not participate in the practice of staying with a host family. However, she said she knew the importance of what the host families bring to the tour and how they help the players.

“I think it becomes an annual tradition, and I think you have that connection (with the family),” Ko said. “So I think it’s great. It also means the locals are very happy to see it. the LPGA come to their area, which is really nice for us to come to a place where they are super welcoming and excited as much as we are. “

Meanwhile, to start the 2021 baseball season, the Loons players had stayed in a designated “bubble” while occupying the dorms at Northwood University instead of staying with local host families, due to Major League Baseball protocols for COVID-19.

But as vaccination rates increased, the MLB began to once again allow minor league players to stay with their families. To stay with host families, players had to present proof of vaccination.

After MLB allowed players to break the bubble, 22 of the 34 Loons players are now living with host families and 13 separate families are housing players. Some players have chosen to find an apartment together rather than stay with host families, but having fun as a team is the main thing.

A total of 20 families welcomed 29 Loons players in 2019.

Loons president and general manager Chris Mundhenk said the team has an application process that asks players and potential families about language preferences, allergies, likes, dislikes, pets , children and the level of interaction players intend to have with families.

Mundhenk said he was happy the host families could once again be a part of the club and the community.

“The Loons host family has been a vital part of the player’s experience and has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Mundhenk. “It gives our players a sense of belonging when they are here at Midland. We see the strong relationships and bonds that endure long after the players have left Midland.”

For professional athletes who are away from home – both LPGA Tour golfers and Loons players – being at home is a precious commodity; therefore feeling at home is important for all players in both sports.

Clanton said she believes host families change the sport and make it an even better experience for players.

“Staying in accommodation brings a certain different aspect to it,” Clanton said. “I enjoyed all the accommodations I have stayed in and have fond memories. It’s nice not having to sit in a hotel room. It’s nice to have a little bit of community and chatting and talking, so that’s been a benefit of the LPGA and something that we do.

“I know a lot of people outside of our industry don’t really understand going to a house of strangers to stay with them for a week, but it really is a great opportunity to meet people and have camaraderie and community with them. That’s a really cool edge that we have. “

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