Union College Baseball dedicates March 30 game to Chad Imel

Feb. 23—BARBOURVILLE — Union College Baseball will commemorate former player and alumni Chad Imel March 30. The program will begin at 11:40 at Union's Harland Sanders Field, with the game against Bluefield immediately following. Imel succumbed to brain cancer in September and is remembered for his profound impact on local youth sports and for his commitment to his family, friends, and faith.

"We want to make sure the whole community knows and try to pack the house," says Head Baseball Coach Chris Lewis. "We want to make it a special day for Chad and his family."

Shortly after graduating from Union in 1995, Imel married fellow alum Stacy Buchanan and settled in Barbourville, where they raised three sons. A member of First Baptist Church of Barbourville, Imel was active with Upward basketball and other ministries and worked as a manager with Maximus, Inc. in London.

Imel's contributions to local youth sports were significant. He served as President of the Knox County Little League Board for 10 years and coached many local teams including the Knox County All Stars, Knox County Middle, and Knox Central High School Baseball teams. He helped introduce travel baseball to the Barbourville area, was a member of the KHSAA Umpire Association, and was especially engaged with the sports activities of his beloved sons.

The Imel game is part of a whole season dedicated to cancer awareness. Lewis says everyone on the team knows someone affected by cancer and that his own father, in fact, died of the same type of aggressive brain cancer — glioblastoma — as Imel. When the team realized their shared concern about this disease, they wanted to do something to help.

"We were fortunate enough to win the conference championship last year for the first time in 17 years, and that was really great, but those things fade," Lewis says. "We try to talk to our players about playing for a bigger purpose."

The idea to dedicate a game specifically to Imel came from Alumni Association President Tim Porter, who remembers Imel as a great teammate and friend. "He was like a brother," Porter says.

"When Chad's name came up, everybody said the same thing — the guy was a pillar of the community," says Lewis. "What a better guy to spotlight than somebody who was involved in the churches and involved in Little League."

Porter says he is looking forward to the March 30 program. "I think it will be pretty special, and a little emotional, I'm sure," he says.

The team plans to present a jersey featuring Imel's number, 36, to his family, and to invite them to throw the first pitch. Additionally, t-shirts that say "Strike Out Cancer" will be on sale to raise funds for the Chad Imel Youth Baseball Foundation, which supports youth baseball programs and players in Knox County.

The program and game are free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to wear gray to show support for those affected by brain cancer. April 20 is set as the rain date.

"I would love to see as many community members, alumni, staff, and faculty as possible come out to honor Chad and support his family," says Lewis.

For questions or more information about the game, contact Chris Lewis at (606) 546-1319 or