Some families have participated in program for years
FARMINGTON — This year's Connie Mack World Series came with a lot of changes.
The series added new teams, expanding the field to 17, and introduced pool play, which cut the field down to nine teams for the championship bracket.
Away from the field, the tournament made some changes, too, particularly with the foster family program.
For decades, families in San Juan County have signed up to host players coming to Farmington to play in the CMWS. Some families are regulars in the program, hosting players year after year, while other families rotate in and out.
In past years, families who hosted on a yearly basis could pick the team whose players they wanted to stay with them. But this year that changed, creating some challenges for the program and leaving potential foster families with questions about who they'd be welcoming into their home.
"A lot of people just didn't know what was going to happen," said Kacy Snyder, who runs the foster family program. "Some were very standoffish at first, but once they got an understanding of pool play and what we were doing, they were really excited about it."
However, Snyder said some families who have regularly hosted players in the past decided not to be a part of the program when they found out they could no longer pick the team they wanted.
Ultimately, the changes worked out. Snyder said more families signed up for the program than expected, and the families she has talked to are enjoying the experience — including her family.
This week, Snyder, her husband Tyson, who is a member of the CMWS committee, and their children are hosting three players from the Florida Legends — third baseman Freddy Zamora, second baseman Austin Pollak and pitcher Shane Roberts.
Snyder, Zamora and Pollak all said it took a little time for everyone in the house to get comfortable with one another, but after a day or so, everyone had settled in.
"At first, it was a little bit hard to crack the shell and get to know each other, but it was really easy to adapt to their home and everything," Pollak said. "Right now, it's awesome. We love the kids, Kacy and Tyson are awesome, and we're creating a great relationship."
After just a few days of staying with the Snyders, Zamora said he already knows saying goodbye is going to be a challenge.
"Like Austin said, it was a bit awkward at first because we've never done this before, but they've taken us in like we're their kids," he said. "We've grown a part of their family, and it'll be hard when we leave here."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.