LINDSBORG — New Bethany College athletes will feel a little less homesick, thanks to an adoptive family program with the Lindsborg community.

Starting this year, 60 freshmen and transfers to the football team will pair with adoptive families, who take players under their wing and welcome them to the community. Basketball, volleyball and baseball teams at the college have similar pairings set up as well.

Erica Kruckenberg, the program’s facilitator and director of alumni relations, explained that a home-away-from-home gives students a supportive foundation in their new endeavors.

“It was such a big impact on me as a student and my husband, who is also a Bethany grad. I’m from Dallas originally, so it was a reverse culture shock for me when I came to Bethany,” Kruckenberg said. “To have a home cooked meal, a place to get away and feel like a home was huge for me. In 2017, sometimes sitting down for a home-cooked meal may not be what that student had at home, so they’re able to introduce that and continue that family, community feeling that’s here in Lindsborg as a town and on campus.”

Adoptive families were used more often in the past, but the program shrank when it became more difficult to find enough families.

“While I was a student here in 1996, we had adoptive families for everyone but we had a much smaller student body population. Feasibility-wise, it was much simpler,” Kruckenberg said. “Hopefully, this will grow to the entire team and maybe even all incoming freshmen. It’s a great opportunity for families and the community, as well as our campus.”

Families volunteering to join the program are asked to meet with their player at a kick-off picnic Aug. 13, attend at least one home game and invite their player over for dinner at least once.

“From that point, they can do more if there’s a click there,” Kruckenberg said. “If they have children at home, it’s also an opportunity for them to role model for the younger ones there. The football coach, Paul Hubbard, has the team go to the elementary school on Fridays for recess and they wear their jerseys. The students love Fridays because they know the football players will be there. To make that connection and have them be able to have dinner at their house would make you the cool parents.”

For more information or to volunteer, contact Kruckenberg at alumni@bethanylb.edu or 785-227-3380 x. 8286.

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.