1 New fields, new turf, new lights, the Youth Development Field ... catch us up on the biggest improvements in the last year or so.
It's been a busy two years at World Baseball Academy. In 2018, thanks to the generous support of our donors, we were able to begin playing on the three brand-new artificial turf baseball fields here at the ASH Centre campus. This past September, with the support from the Legacy Fund and others, we were able to install first-class ballfield lighting on those three fields. Now, in just a few weeks, we hope to start construction on a fourth field thanks to our partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. Nearly $5 million of donor support has transformed the ASH Centre campus into a true community asset for northeast Indiana.
2 Say “economic development” and lots of people just think of new buildings. How does the World Baseball Academy fit into that communitywide effort?
One of the great things about World Baseball Academy is that we care about the development of our young people and our community. While we utilize the platform of baseball to build mentoring relationships with young people, we also host quality youth baseball tournaments that attract out-of-town guests into Fort Wayne. These guests enjoy spending the weekend in our great city and in doing so utilize our hotels, restaurants and stores, creating an economic impact estimated at over $1.5 million each year. We're still growing, so the economic impact will continue to rise.
3 There are so many ways for kids and their parents to spend time these days. What's so special about baseball and soccer games?
As a parent, I enjoy watching my children as they participate in sports. In baseball, I see so many life lessons embedded within the game that can lead to improvements in self-confidence, leadership and overcoming adversity. These skills are transferrable to all areas of life, and I think many parents enjoy watching their children develop. Therefore, you'll often see the family calendar full of sporting events. It can be an emotional roller coaster for a parent, but I think it's those developmental components that make it so enjoyable.
4 What about people who don't have kids involved? Is there an opportunity for the public to watch games and support what you're doing?
World Baseball Academy has expanded our programming to utilize the platform baseball for STEM education, internships and volunteerism. We want to have opportunities available to connect with any young person whether they play baseball or not.
If you just want to enjoy baseball, feel free to come to World Baseball Academy's ASH Centre ballfields. Most evenings Monday through Thursday, you'll see a range of games, including Little League, travel, high school and college.
5 Do you ever wish you were just out there, playing? Where did you play baseball when you were a kid?
Playing catch, fielding a ground ball and swinging a bat will always be special to me and something that I treasure. These days, I just need to listen to my body when it tells me not to go full speed.
I had the privilege of being born and raised here in Fort Wayne. Times Corner Little League was my stomping grounds as a kid. I had a chance to play baseball at Homestead High School and then earned an athletic and academic scholarship to play at Valparaiso University. Competing at the Division I level was a big goal of mine as a player. I enjoyed my baseball career and it honestly helped develop the skills, endurance and confidence that have been needed to help move the World Baseball Academy vision forward.