These baseball-loving families don't mind heading in different directions
Three local families share a common bond relatable by many others.
It requires plenty of patience, countless hours spent behind the wheel, a constant juggling act with schedules, many nights away from the comfort of their own beds, and above all else -- a love for their children and for the game of baseball.
Meet the Conn, Davis and Hamer families and their baseball-playing sons -- Drew (Triton College), Clay and Cole Conn (St. Charles East); Garrett (Webster University-St. Louis) and Jeremy Davis (Elgin Community College); and Steven (Miami of Ohio) and John Hamer (St. Charles North).
Each family has multiple children playing baseball at the high school and/or collegiate levels this spring, requiring quite a bit of maneuverability when it comes to attending games.
Their first rule -- attempting to watch as many games as possible.
Their second rule -- attempting to watch as many games together as possible.
Their third rule -- enjoying every minute of it.
"We really want to be there," said Mike Davis of Geneva. "Garrett has some games later this season in the Chicago area which will help us but otherwise me and my wife (Lynette) split the games and take turns going down there (to St. Louis) while the other stays home and heads to Jeremy's ECC games.
"We don't consider it a chore. We don't mind the traveling. It is all a lot of fun."
With the age difference -- Garrett is 22 years old while Jeremy recently turned 20, the Davis brothers grew up playing on different youth, travel and high school teams.
"I was a full-time coach with Garrett through travel ball and I would help with Jeremy's team when I had the chance," said Mike. "We also have an older son, Jordan, who played baseball up until high school, so I was coaching for a long time -- about 19 years."
Due to Garrett's shoulder surgery and redshirt season, the Davis brothers spent their first and only season playing together at ECC.
"Last year was the best," said their mother, Lynette. "They played at the same place at the same time. It was a real treat."
Last season was a special one for the Conn family as well when then-senior Drew and sophomore twins Clay and Cole joined forces on St. Charles East's varsity baseball team.
"It was the greatest year of all time," said Gary Conn. "For the first time, we didn't have to go to two sites to watch them play."
Before that and again this season, Gary and Kathy Conn play the balancing act.
"We split up when we have to -- play a game of rock, paper, scissors to see who goes where," said Gary. "When I was coaching the twins (in travel ball), it was really hard because I couldn't see many of Drew's games.
"My wife and I were literally going in two different directions and staying in multiple hotels in different cities. When Drew went to a summer tournament in Myrtle Beach (S.C.), Kathy went there while I went with Clay and Cole to Cooperstown (N.Y.)."
At that pace, things can get costly.
"It was the craziest year we've had," said Gary. "With all the travel, hotels, food, gas and travel baseball fees, we must have spent $10,000-15,000 that summer.
"I had put it out of my memory before you reminded me," joked Gary.
Up until this season, watching their two sons play baseball has been a little more convenient for JJ and Terry Hamer.
"Fortunately, they're just a year apart so at times they have been on the same team," said Terry.
Last year, Steven and John were varsity teammates at St. Charles North.
"When Steven was a sophomore (playing varsity) and John was a freshman, the two teams traveled together to their games. I remember us sitting on the hill trying to watch both games (at North)," said their mother, Terry.
"When they're on different teams, we split up and go to their games. We're fortunate since we each own businesses we can be flexible with our hours. I got to all of Steven's games (at Miami of Ohio) earlier this year until the high school season started."
Technological advances have also made things less complicated for multi-athlete parents.
"When we were in Florida (with St. Charles North), I had my iPhone and iPad -- inputting stats on GameChanger while watching Steven's games (at Miami) at the same time," said Terry.
"The social media apps are great," said Gary Conn. "Kathy uses Periscope which allows live video streaming of the games. So even if it you're not there, it feels pretty much like you are."
Two weeks ago, while Mike Davis was watching Garrett's game in St. Louis, Lynette and Jordan were listening to the audio portion from the stands at ECC while watching Jeremy's game.
Win or lose, the three families continue to enjoy the ride -- so to speak.
"Watching the boys play and follow their dreams warms my heart," said Lynette Davis. "After so many years of baseball, it's great to see all of the friends they've made -- many lifetime bonds."
"It's very rewarding and a lot of fun," said Terry Hamer. "We've always been a sports-minded family."
No regrets -- no looking back.
"We've been very fortunate," said Gary Conn. "It's special and fun. We would do it all over again."
You can reach Craig Brueske at email@example.com