116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Chris Vonderhaar’s hat and T-shirt began the discovery of everything they had in common roots-wise.
Vonderhaar always wears stuff with the Iowa Hawkeyes logo. Though he and his wife live in the Seattle area, he’s a proud Iowa grad from Burlington.
“That’s all I got in my closet,” he said.
So it was a couple years back that Vonderhaar had something Hawkeyes related on while attending one of his son’s college baseball games for Trinity University in Texas. That spurred multiple conversations with other Trinity parents.
It turned out five Tigers players had parents from the state of Iowa.
“We connected all those dots,” Vonderhaar said. “In games in Texas, no less, we figured all that out ... It was like ‘Do you know? Do you know?’ It was kind of a little creepy. A small world. It is a small world.”
Even smaller considering Trinity qualified for the NCAA Division III World Series. It began Friday and is being played at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The biggest games their sons ever have played, and they’re in Iowa. Unreal.
Trinity lost its first tournament game to LaGrange (Ga.), remained alive with a losers’ bracket victory Saturday over Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio) but was eliminated Sunday afternoon by LaGrange.
“For my son to be able to come back and play in front of his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, that’s a gift, right?” Vonderhaar said. “I get back here as much as I can. But to be able to have my son come back and play in front of his family is an amazing gift.”
Junior outfielder-first baseman Nathan Braulick grew up in San Antonio, Texas. His mom originally is from Mount Pleasant.
He’s from Dallas. His father, Wes, is a Cedar Rapids Prairie grad and his mother, Maryellen, a member of the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame as a volleyball player.
Harrison Durow pitched last year for the Waterloo Bucks in the summer collegiate Northwoods League and will do so again this year when Trinity’s season comes to a close.
“I grew up watching the Cedar Rapids Reds play,” said Wes Durow, before Trinity’s Friday night game. “I played football, ran track across the way at Kingston Stadium. This is home. We’ll have about 15 fans here tonight. My son has a chance to come back often, played last summer for the Bucks. To make the World Series anytime is great. For it to be in Cedar Rapids is special.”
Especially for the parents.
“It is really so sweet,” Kathy Aylor said. “I feel like it’s full circle. It feels like that ... The people here are always nice and sweet. It’s great. I love being back here.”
Or, in her son’s case, being here for the very first time. The hope was the Aylors would find time to get back to Marshalltown at some point this week.
“It’s super cool,” Garrett Aylor said. “I’ve had a very interesting path to where I’m at today. Ultimately, it’s kind of crazy that it’s coming to its culmination in Cedar Rapids, an hour from where my mom grew up. Being here, seeing that is a very cool experience.”
Aylor’s interesting path included playing two years of Division I baseball at Richmond. There are others on this Trinity team that started out D-I and ended up at Trinity.
“We just have a good track record,” Aylor said. “I think we look at it as Coach (Tim) Scannell and our pitching coach, Coach (Dave) Smith, they’ve produced a lot of guys throughout the years. Ultimately it’s a good place. And having multiple guys with similar experiences makes it easier as well.”
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