Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy ’
By Rachel Frey
The Jimmy Wynn Training Center at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy was dedicated today, June 24, in a ceremony that honored the former Astro’s career and community service. Representatives from the Houston Astros, Minute Maid, Grand Slam for Youth Baseball (GSFYB), Major League Baseball, and other civic and community leaders attended the dedication. GSFYB ambassadors Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, and Brad Mills were also present.
The center is this summer’s field refurbishment project for GSFYB, which is a partnership between the Astros and Minute Maid. The center has 3,412 square feet of multi-use space covered in artificial turf, two cable-suspended batting cages, umpire/staff locker rooms with a shower, and two Yoshida pitching machines, which were donated by Mr. Tadashi Yoshida and shipped in from Chiba, Japan. Major League Baseball also assisted with the completion of this project.
Milo Hamilton was one of the first people to speak, and instructed attendees to, “honor [Jimmy] the way he should be honored. You’re honoring one of the greatest citizens and baseball players.”
Jimmy has been the ambassador for GSFYB over the past six years, and according to Fred Arnold from GSFYB, he cried when they told him the center was to be named after him.
“Come out and learn the game of baseball, learn the facts of life– you have no excuse now,” Jimmy said. “If you need me I’ll be available. I might be slow, but I’m available.”
Jimmy Lee Solomon, who is from the Houston area and is an Executive Vice President of Baseball Development of Major League Baseball, was also present to celebrate the opening.
“This is more than a building– it’s more than the bricks and steel,” Solomon said. “It is a catalyst for change in the community. Kids in areas like this have no chance at the American Dream. We must provide hope to them [through opportunities like the center]. The worst poverty we can leave children in is the poverty of hope.”
In northeast Houston, at Sylvester Turner Park, the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy was buzzing with activity early on Monday morning. It was the first day of their summer camps, and almost 80 boys and girls arrived early to get their shirt and hat before the day’s activities began. Anxious parents talked to their children, and camp instructors prepared the equipment and chilled waters and Powerade.
I followed the groups as they made their way onto the field. This week’s camp is for kids ages 7-12, and they were split into two groups after they ran and stretched. Both groups worked on throwing and catching warm-ups while the coaches corrected their forms. By now, the temperature was approaching 93 degrees, and the kids took a water break as they walked to another area for fielding practice. They were split into infielder and outfielder groups and each set took their own field. The participants had a wide range of skill levels, and the coaches took their time with each kid.
The groups came back to the main office area for lunch. Afterwards, they listened to several of the coaches speak, and continued to work on their baseball skills until they were dismissed to their parents or guardians.
In just one year, the Urban Youth Academy has grown exponentially. Starting with just one full-time staff member, Director Daryl Wade, and Instruction Coordinator Brandon Denton and an intern position were recently added. Additionally, this year’s camps are much larger, with six, one-week camps being offered through the middle of July. They last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Additionally, the Urban Youth Academy has partnered with the City of Houston to distribute free lunches to the camp participants. The Urban Youth Academy is open to any child from 7-17 years old, and may help ease the effects of recent city pool and other youth initiatives closing because of the tough financial situation.
According to Wade, kids should expect to learn the fundamentals of batting and fielding, while at the summer camps. Additionally, they will learn about the history of baseball, the Academy’s mission and history, and how to treat one another. Wade was the Athletic Director for Houston Independent School District before joining the Astros one year ago.
For more information on how to sign up your child for a camp or any of the other programs offered by the Urban Youth Academy, call 281-260-9166 or visit: http://houston.astros.mlb.com/hou/community/urban_youth_academy.jsp