River Bandits host families

Host families
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 10:51 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - For six seasons, Chad and Rebecca Kiefer have been a River Bandits host family, and have housed over 25 players in that time.

“It’s a labor of love to try to help them fulfill their dreams,” Chad Kiefer said.

“We don’t have kids of our own, so these are our kids. They’re friends, they’re here,” Rebecca Kiefer said. “It’s been a great time. It’s a great opportunity. They’re awesome young men. It’s nice to give them one less stress that they have to worry about when they are trying to shoot for their dreams and keep playing baseball.”

The process to become a host family includes an application process. River Bandits management goes through a screening process to ensure each home is a right fit for players.

“A lot of these guys that are coming to town, you know, it’s their first or second time away from home potentially ever, and they’re coming to a town that they don’t recognize,” said Paul Kleinhans-Schulz, the River Bandits’ general manager. “Getting some of these guys that move to a town the opportunity, the chance, to be with people that are well-respected and have good homes in the community [is important.]”

River Bandits players say they’re appreciative of host families, and not having to scramble to find apartments on short notice.

“They like the grind, they know the grind of the schedule, and they’re here supporting us, so it’s super relaxing,” said Kyle Hayes, a catcher on the River Bandits. “My host family, Chad and Rebecca, they’re super supportive, and I mean their meals are really good, so it’s nice not having to worry about dinner on Monday night.”

“If [my teammates] have the option to do it, I’d say do it because you‘ll be talking to those people for the rest of your lives, especially if you hit it off,” said Kale Emshoff, a catcher on the River Bandits.

The Kiefer family said the players typically stay a couple of months, but the relationships remain long after the players leave.

“It’s fun to sit and cheer for them and meet all the other players, but when they do get promoted, it’s a lot of fun,” Rebecca Kiefer said. “We’re here to celebrate for them and help them pack up and move out the next morning.”

“We still keep in touch with the ones that aren’t in baseball anymore,” Chad Kiefer said.

The Kiefers and other host families are not paid by the River Bandits.