Players, coaches and staff of the Iowa Barnstormers spent some quality time with area residents Tuesday night at Oskaloosa Christian School.
The Barnstormers will be in Oskaloosa through Thursday, March 21. While in town, the team will hold regular practices at the Penn Activities Center on the William Penn University campus. This is the second year in a row the team has held their preseason training camp in Oskaloosa.
Those involved with the professional arena football team were on hand at the school to serve burgers, sign autographs and help children have fun with physical activities including a football toss, ladder run and a push-up-pull-up contest.
Jason Alons, principal at Oskaloosa Christian School, said the event served as a fund-raiser for tuition assistance at the school for needy families. He also noted that the Mahaska County Cattlemen supplied the burgers for the event.
“I think it’s been a good night,” said Alons Tuesday evening. “It’s a lot of fun to have the guys (Barnstormers) out there. They’re a great group of guys — really.”
Iowa Barnstormers Head Coach Mike Hohensee was also at Tuesday night’s event at the Oskaloosa Christian School. Hohensee spoke about the high attendance at this event. He said it was good for the players to see just how supportive Barnstormers fans can be.
“I had a chance to go around to every table and shake everybody’s hand and talk to them about the experience,” said Hohensee. “I just think it’s great that they come out here and support us like this.”
Getting out and meeting the Oskaloosa community is important for the fans and the players alike.
“I think it’s obviously important for us to get into the community and to create more support for our team,” Hohensee said, adding that public events like the one held Tuesday at the Oskaloosa Christian School are important for the players because it makes them feel like a part of the Oskaloosa community.
Hohensee also spoke about what he called the “Osky effect” and how it prepared the team for their first game after practice camp this past year.
“We came out of camp last year and went out to Spokane — one of the tougher places to play — and won an overtime game,” said Hohensee. “It was the bond of those guys believing in each other that got us through that and I’m hoping it has the same effect this year.”
The team’s next event open to the public will be Tuesday, March 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. where they will work on a Habitat For Humanity house and then have a spaghetti dinner at Central United Methodist Church. They also will appear on Thursday, March 14, at the Peppertree.