RIDGEFIELD — When Marykay and Chris Lamoureaux agreed to be a host family this summer for the Ridgefield Raptors, they expected to open their home to a college student.
Instead, the Lamoureaux household ended up as the only one hosting the team’s coaches: Chris Cota, 53, and Rob Paramo, 57.
The Lamoureaux house has a basement with two bedrooms, a separate entrance and a living space. Team officials thought it would be a good setup for the two coaches, whom they wanted to keep together. The team, which is nearly halfway through its inaugural season, arranges places for out-of-town players and coaches to stay.
“It’s a great way to be a part of the community and welcome the team to Ridgefield,” said Marykay Lamoureaux, executive director of the Ridgefield Main Street program. “It’s been super fun to have them here.”
The couple’s schedule doesn’t really line up with the coaches, so there hasn’t been much time for hanging out.
Chris Lamoureaux, a commercial pilot, is often gone for work, while Marykay Lamoureaux starts her days early. The coaches typically get home late. Sometimes they are greeted by a note with dinner leftovers or cookies baked by a neighbor, gestures they appreciate because there isn’t a place in Ridgefield that stays open late enough to stop in after games.
“It’s important to be able to unwind and, as a host family, we try to provide a comfortable place to come home to every night, some homecooked meals and recommendations about the local area and recreational activities,” Chris Lamoureaux wrote in an email.
It’s a bit different from the more than 20 other families this summer hosting players.
Darcy and Jim Rourk are hosting Joey Martin, a pitcher from Kansas State University. Both Rourks are Kansas State alumni, and their three grown daughters have all visited the campus, so they talk about Kansas State. Jim Rourk said his grandsons adore Martin, who has spent plenty of time this summer playing catch with them and a few other neighborhood kids.
“It’s like hero worship,” Rourk said. “It’s like he is Mickey Mantle to them.”
Rourk said Martin has lifted their spirits and brought some youthful energy to their home.
“He’s very full of life and funny,” Rourk said. “It’s been great. There are no downsides.”
It’s also a reminder of what it’s like to have a teenager in the house, Rourk said, adding that Martin spends a lot of his free time out with friends.
Rourk said he was surprised at how tidy Martin has been.
“The host parents sit together, and we compare notes,” Rourk said. They remark on the similarities among the players. “They’re all neat. They’re all polite. It’s really a benefit to the community. They stay after the games, sign autographs. They’ll talk to the last fan.”
Cota said the coaches have instructed players to be respectful guests and represent the team positively in the community. And if that’s not enough, he’s got other methods for keeping players in line.
“I keep in contact with all their college coaches,” he said. “The last thing they want is me to give their coach a call to say something bad.”
Cota also spends the regular season in college. He has spent the last 19 years coaching at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., where Paramo is one of his assistants. He has also spent time in the off-season coaching in China, Japan and the Dominican Republic. This is the first time he’s ever done a homestay while coaching.
“There was talk of us doing a homestay or getting an apartment,” Cota said. “I talked to a friend who coached in the league to see what he did. He told me that if you end up with the right host family, it could work. We got lucky. We’ve been spoiled this summer.”
It didn’t take long for the two coaches to adjust to life with the Lamoureauxes in Ridgefield. Cota likes to take his morning coffee in the backyard, which overlooks a wooded part of Ridgefield.
“It’s like looking at a painting,” Paramo said.
The two are counting down the days until their summer fishing trip on the Lewis River, and when they head into downtown Ridgefield, they’re greeted by neighbors they have never met.
“It’s not like that at home in Southern California,” Cota said. “It’s just a pleasant environment.”