Baseball takes center stage for parents

Shiva Bucklin '22
    Shiva Bucklin ’22

October 2, 2020 — Sunita Verma and Dr. Theodore “Ted” Bucklin have always been involved in their four kids’ athletic and academic careers.

When it comes to their third child, Shiva Bucklin ’22, that meant attending baseball games since Little League. Since Shiva started playing the infield for the Grinnell College baseball team, Sunita and Ted have become an enthusiastic part of the parent-support network.  

“We’ve always been involved with our kids’ activities, whether it’s academic or sports,” explains Sunita, who’s the sports booster president at Palo Alto’s Gunn High School, where Shiva was a four-year varsity athlete and team captain. “Grinnell’s team needed some parent support, and we wanted to be a part of it,” adds Ted.

Sunita, who runs a college consulting business, and Ted, a pediatric orthopedist, had intended to travel to Arizona in March for the Grinnell baseball team’s spring break games. The couple had planned meals for coaches and players, along with get-to-know-you events for everyone, including other volunteer parents. The 2020 baseball games in Arizona, however, were canceled because of the pandemic. Nonetheless, Sunita and Ted will be involved in planning for similar spring break baseball trips in 2021 and 2022. 

Shiva follows a long line of Palo Alto, California-area baseball players who’ve come to Grinnell. “I knew it would be a good place for him academically, and several players Shiva knew – including Graham Fisher ’16 and Ryan Chang ’21 – were so excited and said such nice things about Grinnell,” Sunita says. Jonathan Gottlieb ’22, likewise from Palo Alto, also is a teammate and friend of Shiva’s.

The baseball team got in eight games – going 5-3 – before the 2020 season was interrupted and ultimately cancelled. Even without games, baseball parents have stayed in touch online, sharing information and photos.

“Head coach Tim Hollibaugh is so amazing with the boys,” Ted says. “He’s always available to talk with them whether it’s about school or something else.” And since this semester began with remote classes, he’s been updating parents and providing players with training plans to keep in shape.

The couple’s support isn’t limited to athletics, however. Ted and Sunita recently donated to the Supporting Our Students (SOS) Technology Fund to supply laptops and hotspots to students. When the College switched to remote learning because of the pandemic, a number of students were concerned about having the technology at home to access online classes. Donations to the SOS Fund has helped resolve those problems.

“Not all kids have the same resources at home, and this fund keeps them involved and able to continue their education,” Ted says.

Before starting her college counseling business, Sunita worked in microbiology and immunology, and like both of his parents, Shiva is a hardcore science student, majoring in biochemistry and neuroscience.

“His education is quite different than mine,” she says. “Ted and I both went to large public universities and Grinnell is such a different experience than what we had. My chemistry class had 1,500 students.” In contrast, says Ted, Shiva has weekly, one-on-one Zoom sessions with his biochemistry professor, Dr. Charvann Bailey, to review scientific literature. 

“Shiva’s made so many friends and connections from all over the world,” Ted says. “When he first came home in March it was amazing to watch Shiva do his schoolwork. He had organic chemistry study groups with five other students from around the world. The professors made it work and the students made it work. It was great to see how they rose to the occasion.”

-by Anne Stein ’84

For your information:

No decision has been made at this time about 2021 spring sports at Grinnell College. If given the green light, baseball season could start on Feb. 27. Check the team’s webpage for the latest news.

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