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NECC Home Run Derby combines competition, fundraising and sense of community

November 5, 2019


A senior project for two Lakeland Junior/Senior High School students turned into a much larger life lesson for several Northeast Indiana communities.

Jayce Riegling and Braden Yoder have worked tirelessly over the course of the fall semester to put on the inaugural Northeast Corner Conference Home Run Derby. The friendly competition pitted 16 sluggers from across the league against each other to see who could hit the most ‘dingers.’

“I thought the NECC would be a great idea, because it bring schools together and people who have played against each other since 3rd grade,” Riegling says.

The NECC Home Run Derby also served as a fundraiser for Hello Gorgeous!, a Mishawaka-based nonprofit organization that provides free professional makeovers and cosmetic education for women battling cancer.

“I personally know some of the people who run Hello Gorgeous!,” Yoder says. “I thought it was a great fit for this. I think it’s really nice that we can give a chance for people in other communities to come together for a nice event.”

The idea for the home run derby was part of a capstone project assigned to seniors at Lakeland. Both Riegling and Yoder shared interest in putting on an athletic competition, and combined efforts to organize the NECC Home Run Derby from top to bottom: logistics of the Sunday afternoon event, finding participants, choosing a beneficiary for the fundraiser, and holding a media day with the players in the days leading up to the derby.

“They knocked it out of the park - no pun intended,” Lakeland athletic director Roman Smith says. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes into setting up an event like this. They’re representing their schools, they’re representing the conference, they’re representing their communities for a really good cause.”

Consensus says the NECC Home Run Derby was a huge success. Garrett senior Tristan Taylor won the competition on the field, more than 350 people attended the event and $5,400 had already been raised for Hello Gorgeous! in the days leading up to the event.

“They put their heart and soul into this,” Trisha Greenlee, director of operations for Hello Gorgeous, tells ParkviewSportsMedicine.com. “These two young men were so professional and so dedicated to make a difference in the world.”

Money raised will go directly to programs that “restore beauty that cancer steals,” Greenlee adds.

Smith hopes the NECC Home Run Derby becomes an annual competition now that the groundwork has been laid.

As for the boys’ futures, this experience could help shape their careers. Riegling may study sports management with sights set on becoming a sports agent. Yoder is interested in engineering, but says this experience has developed a business niche that he may explore.



Lakeland's Jayce Riegling


Lakeland's Braden Yoder


Lakeland's Brayden Bontrager


Prairie Heights' Camden Hall


Prairie Heights' Tyler Curtis


West Noble's Hunter Saggers


Westview's Nick Mortrud


Westview's Takota Sharick


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