SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Augustana University has one of the best baseball programs in the country.
The Vikings won the NCAA Division II National Title in 2018. Recently, the Augie players traveled to a country that produces some of the best baseball players in the world. The trip was part of a college course called "Dominican Republic - Development, Ethics, and Baseball.”
The Augustana baseball team gets their swings indoors during these winter months. The team spent plenty of time outdoors during a recent trip to the Dominican Republic.
Head coach Tim Huber says the program takes a trip like this every four years.
"We've taken the team the team down to Nicaragua previously and the now the Dominican republic was is even more baseball crazy and probably a little more higher profile, see a lot of big league guys from down there,” says Huber.
40 percent of all foreign players in the major leagues are from the Dominican Republic. The Vikings players conducted some youth clinics and saw just how important baseball is to them.
"For some of the people in the country it is their way of life and that's what gives them the opportunity to maybe get off the island and get somewhere different and make some money that's why baseball is such a big deal,” says Huber.
"They grow up playing baseball and if they don't make it to professional they don't have the best education to fall back on and it's just kind of crazy to see that in person,” says Junior Pitcher Tanner Brown.
While the Augie players played in games some against some major league teams' Dominican prospects, they also saw the tough reality of poverty in the country.
"It gives a completely different mindset to what we have and kind of just the dumb things we might complain about here or there,” says Senior Outfielder Riley Johnson.
"It was really hard to see some of the things we have to see and it really made me realize how fortunate we are to have a building like this and have all the things we've had while growing up,” says Brown.
"Going somewhere where they see people that don't have as much as they do and life is just different, it's normal for them but it's different for us and you kind of see what that looks like,” says Huber.
The Augie baseball team also went a perfect 4-0 in the games they played which included a win against the Texas Rangers Dominican prospects.