DeKALB — The baseball team will travel to Winter Haven, Florida to face the Boston College University Eagles and raise awareness of ALS during this weekend’s matchup.
Pete Frates, who promoted the ice bucket challenge, was a mutual friend of both head coaches. NIU Head Coach Mike Kunigonis met Frates when he was first diagnosed with ALS, Kunigonis said. Frates was a baseball player at Boston College at the time, under former head coach, Pete Hughes.
Kunigonis said the two struck up an immediate friendship being fellow New Englanders. Boston College Head Coach Mike Gambino also has a connection with Frates. Gambino, Hughes, and Kunigonis all coached baseball together at Virginia Tech.
This weekend, NIU baseball will promote ALS in a multitude of ways, Kunigonis said. The players will wear wristbands that say #TeamFrateTrain on them. They will also bring a Frates jersey into the dugout, and following the game both teams will come together for a group picture. Frates' father, John Frates, will be in attendance to talk to the players, redshirt-junior outfielder Kam Smith said.
The NIU baseball team also has an ALS awareness game during the last home games of the season. Frates’ alma mater, Boston College, spreads awareness for ALS all season long.
“Us and Boston College share a common friend, fighting a common enemy,” Kunigonis said.
The first pitch of the weekend is set for 3 p.m. Friday.