Inman family loves baseball, opens home to Freedom players


Jennifer Inman

Boone business teacher Jennifer Inman and her son and husband take a selfie before a Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ballpark last summer.

Morgan Daniels, Author

From middle school, to high school, and finally to adulthood, Boone teacher Jennifer Inman has loved baseball through every stage of her life.

The sport has influenced Inman and those around her so much so that she and her family have even opened up their home to several different minor league players.

For the past three years, the Inman’s have hosted Florence Freedom players as a way of giving back to the sport and taking their love one step further.

The way it works is the host family coordinator assigns a Freedom player to live at a family’s home during the length of the season, during the months of April through September.

The requirements are that the host family must provide the player with a private room, a place to do laundry, and a bathroom. The Inman’s, however, attempt to make them feel at home and a part of their family by providing them meals and other necessities.

In turn, the host family receives free tickets to Freedom games to cheer on and provide support for the player whose family is usually somewhere else in the country.

The biggest impact hosting Freedom players has had on Inman and her family is being able to give back through something they are passionate about.

She said that getting to know the players they host and be a part of their lives puts a human face on the game and shows her son (who is a baseball player himself) what the game can be if he pursues it at a high level.

For the players are more than just athletes, they are good individuals who are striving towards something positive, Inman said.

This April, the Inman’s will be hosting the same player they had during the end of last season, and they are excited to welcome him back into their home.

Throughout the three years they’ve been hosting, the Inman’s have had players from Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Louisiana, Ohio, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Of course, a passion this strong doesn’t forge overnight. Inman has had a strong connection to baseball ever since her Youth Group attended a lot of minor league games in middle and high school.

It was even with them that she traveled 2 hours and 30 minutes to watch the Reds at her first ever major league game.

She said it was a huge to deal to be able to go there with all her friends and see firsthand the excitement they had only ever been able to see on TV.

One memory during her childhood that stood out as particularly special to Inman was what her Youth Group would do once the ballgames were over.

“After the game was over. we used to lay on the baseball field and look up at the stars and tell each other different stories or memories or just share experiences,” Inman said. “It’s really neat to be out where it’s really quiet and look up at the stars and just really think about life.”

Her Youth Group aside, baseball had just always been a vital part of Inman’s childhood, as a result of growing up in the small town of Portland, Ind.

“We’ve always been a baseball family,” Inman said. “I grew up in a small town where baseball was the primary focus of your summer and the Reds stadium was close enough that we could travel for a special occasion to go to a ballgame.”

Sharing the passion for the game with her husband and kids has allowed baseball to become an integral part of Inman’s family life as well.

The majority of her summer is spent at her son’s baseball games.

She’s traveled to many different places for his games, all the way from Pennsylvania to Cooperstown, New York, which is the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As a mom, Inman said she appreciates the sport and all it teaches her sons.

She believes baseball plays a big part in teaching kids about respect, good manners, leadership skills, and how to work well with a team.

Today, Inman is an avid Chicago Cubs fan, thanks to her husband. She and her family love the team so much that they have a Cubs banner on their front door and, for the past several years, have even traveled to Arizona for Cubs Spring Training at Sloan Park.

Among the many trips Inman has taken to feed her baseball fervor, one in particular allows for her to visit a multitude of stadiums and games.

Each year, the Inman’s schedule their vacation to Florida around getting to see ballgames on the way. Inman said they always stop by Alabama for a Montgomery Biscuits game and sometimes even take a little detour so they can catch a Blue Wahoos game in Pensacola.

Last spring break, the family even drove an hour out of their way in order to watch a Chattanooga Lookouts game.