Break out the baseball caps and cracker jacks because the Junior Giants summer kids’ baseball league kicked off their first ever season last week seeing overwhelming success, with over 180 kids registering for the free program prompting around 50 volunteers to sign up to lend a hand, according to Chris Morgan, community services program coordinator.
The non-competitive, co-ed league, which is in partner with the Giants Community Fund (a non-profit organization that funds leagues throughout Northern California), aims “to use baseball as a forum to encourage and educate… youth to live healthy and productive lives.”
Practices and games for the two league divisions will occur one night per week, according to the informational page on the website and the two divisions will consist of “Tee Ball” for kids five to six years old and “Minors” for kids seven to nine years old.
“We just started this last Monday (practices) and we’ve had a very good response from parents,” Morgan said.
According to Morgan, the league doesn’t only focus on teaching kids’ baseball, but also positive life habits such as teamwork and healthy living.
Susan Hobaugh, whose daughter plays in the “Tee Ball” division, said they are also teaching other important concepts such as anti-bullying and the reciprocity of respect.
“There is a focus on anti-bullying and they have assignments that show teamwork and anti-bullying and if they complete it they get a little prize,” Hobaugh said.
Morgan said kids don’t even have to come with their own gear, which makes the sport of baseball more inclusive for everyone.
“Kids don’t need their own gear like gloves,” Morgan said. According to him, they provide the kids with their own jersey and also provide bats and gloves.
“You just show up and play baseball,” Morgan said. “And at the end of the season they get to keep the gear.”
Initially as more and more kids signed up to play ball, Morgan said at first, they didn’t have enough volunteers and were surprised by the response since it’s the first-year Rohnert Park is offering the program.
Nancy Segues, whose son is now a freshman in high school, said he saw that the league needed more volunteers in a community newsletter and said, “Mom this would be great to do!”
“I know they really needed volunteers, so he and his friend wanted to volunteer to get community service hours and so they got on the team together,” Segues said.
According to Segues, volunteer work can consist of either coaching or assistant coaching a team or being a team parent.
“They’ll help set up the field and the coaches also teach the kids to drink water and eat healthy. It’s a really wonderful program and I wish they had it when my son was younger,” Segues said.
After the call was answered to bring in more volunteers, Morgan said that the large team of community members stepping up to the plate to volunteer does not “warrant a drive” to recruit more people.
However, he said, “there are a couple teams with only a few volunteers,” so a couple more volunteers are needed.
Segues said that the process for signing up her son was quite easy and that Morgan was very fast in responding for getting her son set up to be an assistant coach.
“You sign up by going through the website… login and register to volunteer and you have to have a background check unless you are a minor. Chris is great and responds very fast,” Segues explained of the signup process.
Hobaugh said the most rewarding aspect about having her daughter play on the league, is that it’s an overall good program and nice being able to see all children have an opportunity to partake in the sport.
“It’s free and open to everyone so all children get an opportunity to play,” Hobaugh said.