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May 5, 2017

 

IPS Baseball Youth League  
 
 
 
Some of
Indianapolis Public Schools’ youngest students are being introduced to
America’s favorite pastime this spring, thanks to a partnership between IPS Athletics and Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities
(RBI) initiative
.

 

Together the
two entities have launched the district’s Elementary Baseball League, which is
already a hit with students.

 

In its inaugural
season, the league is dedicated exclusively to IPS elementary schools and
features 13 teams from across the district. For many students, this is their
first time ever playing baseball, and although some of them have swung a bat
before, it’s also the first time they’ve played on a team with their
classmates. 

 

Mike Lennox,
executive director of Play Ball Indiana, has been eager to help run a youth
baseball program for IPS students. Play Ball Indiana, the local affiliate of
the RBI Initiative, is known as the host of Central Indiana’s top inner-city
baseball and softball leagues.

 

“We’re
thrilled to partner with IPS at this age level because it is so critical to get
the younger children out on the fields to compete and have fun,” said Lennox. “We
want them to have the opportunity to develop now in preparation for the higher
grade levels. This partnership with IPS is great for everyone involved and
we’re excited to have it off and running.”  IPS Youth Baseball

 

In addition
to facilitating the league, Play Ball Indiana has provided on-site equipment,
including catchers’ gear, that all of the teams can use when playing at the
parks for games or practice. 

 

The league
offers a division for kindergarten- through third-grade students to provide an
additional sports option (along with soccer) for students who are typically too
small to play competitively with regulation-sized volleyball nets and
basketball goals. The K-3 level features “coach pitch,” and allows the kids to learn
the structure of the game and begin to develop a love for the sport at a pace
that is easy to keep up with.

 

The
competition ramps up to the next level for the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade
ball players, where there is a dedicated baseball and softball division. The
baseball league is coed, allowing schools to combine boys and girls if they do
not have enough players for separate teams. This Player Pitch Division features
some strong arms on the mound, as well as some powerhouse hitters stepping up
to the plate.

 

The staff of
Play Ball Indiana has worked tirelessly to clean up fields at a pair of Indy Parks sites over the last few months in preparation for this IPS
league. Christian Park has undergone the most significant makeover, with the
removal of wildly overgrown weeds and greenery, revealing a beautiful backdrop
for springtime hardball. The diamonds at Forest Manor provide the other
location for this season’s games. Complete with concession stands, dugouts and
batter introductions, the atmosphere brings out the true spirit of youth
baseball.

 

In addition
to having the opportunity to develop skills and learn sportsmanship, this
league will also help players make a greater impact when they get to middle
school — where baseball and softball programs are already established.

 

Edmond Gooch, baseball coach and athletics
director at William Penn School 49,
has enjoyed watching his players develop.

 

“The skill set of most of my
players was minimal. They’re almost all first-time players. They were not
able to catch or field balls, but now with practice and games under our
belt, I am seeing great improvements,” said Gooch. “Plus, the atmosphere at
both parks is very supportive. The staff there always meets us at our bus with
the equipment and provides us with whatever is needed. It’s definitely
appreciated!”

 

As with all
IPS Athletics’ programs, the goal of this league is for the players to develop
both on and off the field. With baseball being a sport that has a unique
combination of individual pressures along with team play, playing baseball at
this age allows students to learn to handle situations that playing other
sports does not.

 

As league
interest continues to grow, IPS Athletics and Play Ball Indiana will host exclusive
camps and clinics for IPS players and coaches alike, and will utilize
additional parks for games and practice space.

 

With all
signs pointing up, this partnership has been a homerun, and marks the beginning
of what could potentially become a signature program in the district.
 
IPS Baseball Youth League