Closer to Free Ride

SCSU Baseball Steps Up to the Plate for Closer to Free Ride

NBC Universal, Inc.

It takes a whole team of dedicated people to make the Closer to Free Ride happen every year.

There’s one team stepping up to the plate on Saturday: Southern Connecticut State University's Baseball team.

“Yeah, I’m pretty excited actually, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said pitcher Nick Guarino.

Many players will be there as volunteers, and some will be riders.

“You know, it was a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” said centerfielder Andre Eng. “And being a state school, you want to be a part of New Haven as a whole.”

Head coach Tim Shea said he’s always looking for a way for the team to give back. He rallied them to help three years ago in 2019 when his brother, Jackie, was battling cancer.

“So for me, it was really a fulfilling day. Not just as a coach, but personally because I was there supporting my brother,” Shea said.

He learned about the ride from his wife Vicky who had done it before. She was there with him and Jackie during the Smilow Salute.

“They were able to bring him down to street level, and I think the only smile bigger than mine was the one on his face,” Shea said.

Jackie, and also Vicky’s mom, have since passed away from cancer, so this year will mean a lot.

The day will also touch two players who will also join coach Shea on ride day. Mike Szturma’s mother is going through breast cancer right now.

“She’s fired up,” Szturma said. “They’re going to be there to support me. She’s happy that I’m doing this for her and everybody else that’s going through the fight as well.”

It's the weekend of the 12th annual Closer to Free Ride and there's extra excitement this year because for the first time in three years, the ride is back in person.

Guarino is riding for his mother, a cancer survivor. He’s also riding for a friend he lost at 12 years old.

“So, everyone’s family has kind of been affected by cancer, so it’s good to get out there for the community and everybody," he said.

It will be a first Closer to Free Ride for many of them, but the team says like always, they’re up for the challenge.

“I have no idea what’s to come,” Eng said. “I know we have a little bit of an early wake up, but I’m excited for sure.”

Contact Us