September 11, 2018

DAYTON, Ohio - The challenges come early for the Tartan Pride baseball team at Sinclair Community College.  Fall practice begins two weeks before the start of classes as Coach Steve Dintaman goes to work building a team that will challenge again for the Junior College World Series.  His routine includes building character by challenging his players to give blood on the traditional team visit to the Dayton Community Blood Center.

"We have 39 players and I think 31 said, 'yeah, I'd like to donate,'" said Coach Dintaman on Sept. 10, the team's 10th annual visit to CBC. "We have a lot of first-time donors, and that's really cool. We just stress the importance to the community. You never know when people in your life may need blood, or if you might need it someday."

Thanks to the Tartan Pride, it was not an ordinary Monday at the Dayton CBC. The Donor Center totaled 66 donors, including 22 first-time donors for 176 percent of the collection goal for the day.

"I was a little nervous to start but it wasn't bad," said first-time donor Adam Schneider.  "Coach told the story about a previous player he had that lost a lot of blood two times in two weeks. I've had cancer in my family: my and aunt and my mom also had it. I know they need blood."

Coach Dintaman's inspiration came from former Sinclair pitcher Dan Jensen from Centerville.  His carotid artery was "nicked" during routine tonsillectomy surgery in 2007, the summer before his freshman year at Sinclair.  Twice he was rushed to the hospital with massive bleeding, nearly choking to death in the middle of the night when a second surgical repair failed.

He survived thanks to multiple blood transfusions. He worked himself back into shape, became an ace pitcher for Sinclair and then the University of Cincinnati. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and played for the Dayton Dragons.

Dan Jensen's story helped launch the annual Sinclair baseball team visits to CBC, but each new player writes a new chapter when they become a blood donor.

"I was really nervous," said first-time donor Brian Hama. "I thought it was going to be a lot worse. I didn't really consider doing it, but I just thought about how many lives you can save. I thought about what it would be like to have a family member that needed blood."

Brian completed his donation in nine minutes. He quickly shared the news with his roommate Keegan Corbett from Middletown who also was making his first lifetime donation. "Boom!" said Keegan as he finished his donation in 8:50, "beating" Brian by 10 seconds.

"Let's just say I drank a lot of water!" said Keegon.

"They compete in everything they do," said Coach Dintaman.

Their coach leads by example. He was one of the first to donate, making his 38th lifetime donation.

He hopes also to lead this new team to another championship season. His team earned a trip to the NJCAA Division II Junior College World Series in Enid, Oklahoma last spring. The Tartan Pride won their region with a 44-9 record that included a 31-game winning streak and their eighth conference championship in 10 years.  They were seeded fifth in the double elimination tournament, and were eventually ousted by host Northern Oklahoma College.

"This group is dedicated on and off the field," Coach Dintaman said. "They want to get back to the World Series. That would be our third trip in four years if we go back."

His team has now completed 10 trips to the Dayton CBC to donate together.  CBC can always count on them coming back.