By Chase VanHorn (JMU Class of 2020)
The Harrisonburg Little League Association has created Pitch-In, a new program that will be featured in this year’s Bat-A-Thon Nov. 7 at Horizons Edge Sports Campus.
Pitch-In was introduced to HLLA at the beginning of its season last year as a “trial” run by volunteer head coach Jared Dull, his wife, Brooke, and fellow board member, Dee Ritchie. Jared felt HLLA needed a “give back program.”
On registration day alone last year, Jared and Pitch-In donated equipment or clothing to roughly seven families. After the season was finished, Pitch-In had helped as many as 20 families.
Jared and Brooke knew they had created an equal opportunity in Harrisonburg for all children to play baseball or softball regardless of financial situations and felt it was important to make improvements for this upcoming season.
According to a report of CBS News, the number of participants in sports of families who make less than $75,000 has dropped as well as the average family spends roughly $700 a year on equipment, fees, and more . The report also said cost is the top reason for middle- and lower-income families for their children not to participate in organized sports.
”It took numerous board meetings to brainstorm ways to improve Pitch-In,” said Jared,“This year, Pitch-In is better than before and in full force.”
A Pitch-In booth will be set up during the Bat-A-Thon to inform individuals on the improvements. First, Jared no longer operates Pitch-In from his car, but rather in storage units. “We wanted to create a large stock-pile to avoid not having enough equipment.”
Second, Pitch-In is a year round program. The booth during Bat-A-Thon is simply a way to get the word out. There will be a collection box along with the booth. But, families can donate during any time of season. Also, promoting the program has been a focus point, so expect Pitch-In booths at all HLLA events moving forward.
Third, Pitch-In is not just for donations, but rather a way to “borrow and bring back.”Jared added, ”if any kid borrows a piece of equipment from Pitch-In and finds they are beginning to outgrow it, HLLA will allow kids to swap items as long as they remain in good condition.”
The Bat-A-Thon is HLLA's annual fundraiser to reward the players for their fundraising efforts. Players are asked to raise $50 which is turned into tickets that can be redeemed at the Prize Tent. Each player will also get a chance to take some swings and earn cool prizes.
So, come out and support the HLLA. And, most importantly children can have fun, while HLLA volunteers will follow the safety guidelines to ensure everyone is safe from Covid-19. All participants need to wear a mask unless they are participating in on-field activities. You can still RSVP for the event at https://forms.gle/RBWdiVtJ3xbLqq4w6.
HLLA Story is an official blog site of the Harrisonburg Little League Association. All content is managed by Bluestone Communications, a student-run public relations agency at James Madison University. Please contact Isaac Woo (firstname.lastname@example.org), faculty director of Bluestone Communications, if you have any questions about the blog or the stories.