Baseball fields across the Upper Midwest turned into community hubs this summer as the Play Ball! Youth Clinics brought together local cooperatives, youth organizations, enthusiastic kids and their parents.
More than 50 free baseball and softball clinics were brought to communities across Twins Territory through a partnership between Great River Energy, the Minnesota Twins and the Twins Community Fund. The events drew 3,500 participants to fields in towns and cities from Alexandria to Sleepy Eye to Farmington and Elk River.
These clinics offer youth ages 6 to 12 the opportunity to pitch and hit in their own neighborhoods with guidance from knowledgeable coaches. They also teach participants how to embrace teamwork, learning and the spirit of the game. Seven of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives hosted events this year.
“Our partnership with the Twins to bring these one-of-a-kind events to kids is a natural fit for us,” said Andrea Lee, senior communications specialist at Great River Energy. “Beyond our member-owners’ service territory overlapping well with Twins Territory, cooperatives work toward the sustainable development of the communities we serve. These events bring people together and create special memories for the youth who participate.”
The Twins continued offering softball-specific clinics this year to encourage additional participation among girls. Former softball coaches and players were used as clinicians to oversee these events, which saw 769 participants compared to 634 last year. Pre-registration for all the clinics showed such an increase in demand that the Twins hired 25 additional clinicians to ensure a proper coach-to-player ratio.
“It remains true that our clinic program is one of the most important and impressive programs we run,” said Chelsey Falzone, manager of youth engagement for the Minnesota Twins. “We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from hosts and parents throughout the entire season.”
David Blom, of Alexandria, was one of the many grandparents and parents who attended Runestone Electric Association’s clinic.
“Leighton, my 7-year-old great-grandson from Sauk Centre had never played or expressed an interest in baseball before,” he said. “After the Play Ball! clinic, Leighton loved it and wants to play next year — even said maybe someday he’ll play for the Twins!”