Olivet Nazarene senior makes pitch to build more baseball talent in Dominican Republic
Some of the best Major League Baseball players in history have come from the Dominican Republic, including Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and Juan Marichal. Olivet Nazarene University's (ONU) Jonathan Hentschel is working to ensure that the legacy of great Dominican players in the MLB continues for years to come.
Hentschel, an ONU senior, spent the last two summers volunteering with Go Ministries’ Sports Outreach Program in the Dominican Republic.
“The ministry as a whole has a number of ways that they reach the community,” Hentschel told the Kankakee Times. “I am specifically involved in the sports outreach program. There is a baseball and basketball academy for the local Dominican kids. I’ll do anything from helping coach the kids, purchase equipment, helping them learn English.”
He also said the ministry works with church groups and sports teams in the United States that visit the Dominican Republic to do short-term volunteer missions as part of the Go Ministries. Henschel said that he serves as a guide and translator for people on short-term volunteer missions.
Henschel got involved with the Go Ministry when an athletic trainer at ONU told him about the organization and mentioned that they were looking for a student-athlete who spoke some Spanish. After graduating from college, he plans on returning to the island permanently.
“I graduate in May, and then I’m going to go back and work for the sports outreach program,” Henschel said. “I’ll be taking over a role working full time with the baseball academy. I’ll be helping the kids and players work toward their goal of coming to the United States to play baseball and go to college here.”
He plans to help the kids learn English and effective study habits, excel in classes and develop their skills on the baseball field. For Henschel, one of the most rewarding experiences from his time in the Dominican Republic was being able to mentor young children.
“Seeing the coaches bring the kids in and kind of become a father figure to them is such a special thing,” he said. “So many kids there grow up without a father, and it’s really cool to see someone care for the kids and work with them.”
Hentschel is a pitcher who has made 42 appearances and 31 starts during his college career. He has an overall record of 19-12 and 141 strikeouts. Last year he was named to the CCAC All-Academic Team and was a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete.
The Tigers kick off the fall baseball season in late September with a series against Lincoln Christian University. They then play a series in October against Mount Vernon Nazarene University to close out the short fall season. The team will take the field again in February 2018 against Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee.