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Rawhide Announce Kick-Off Event for "Play Ball" Initiative

April 25, 2016 - California League (CalL) - Visalia Rawhide News Release

Visalia Rawhide and Children in Front of Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia
Visalia Rawhide and Children in Front of Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia
(Visalia Rawhide)

VISALIA, CA - The Visalia Rawhide are pleased to announce that this Wednesday, April 27^th against the Modesto Nuts will officially mark the kick-off to the "Play Ball" initiative, in partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia and the Step-Up Program of Tulare County.

The program is structured to combine "Character Counts!," values and Major League Baseball's "Play Ball" initiative as announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred in 2015 and is the first of its kind implemented at the minor league level.

With the help of the Wittman Center, 50 kids, split 50/50 boys and girls under the age of 12, were selected to participate with a focus on individuals who do not have the financial resources or support from home to have access to organized baseball leagues, and aims to give these children foundational baseball skills, more exposure to the game, and basic equipment while instilling thorough knowledge of what it means to have character on and off the field. The Rawhide and Dicks Sporting Goods have provided the Whitman center with all the necessary equipment following the joint "shopping spree" on Saturday, April 16^th . An acceptable playing surface has been provided as well and the program will engage current players on the Rawhide as volunteers throughout the duration.

"Dick's Sporting Goods is very happy to be a part of the Visalia Rawhide's Play Ball program! We look forward to working with the team and are excited to be involved in our local community," said Amy Vanderlin, Dick's Community Marketing Manager for Northern California.

Following the kick-off game this Wednesday, the program will run the course of the season with one private baseball clinic a month involving Rawhide players and coaches at Rawhide Ballpark. The first clinic is this Saturday, April 30^th at Noon, with the clinics following Saturday, May 28^th , Thursday, June 30^th , Friday, July 22^nd and Saturday, August 27^th . The initiative will close with an end-of-program celebration game on Sunday, August 28^th with a 4 p.m. wiffle ball game for the kids. The participating children receive a t-shirt and meals at both the kick-off game and the end-of-program celebration game provided by the Step-Up Program of Tulare County. Transportation is being provided by the Loop Bus.

During each scheduled clinic, the children will be taught one of the "Six Pillars of Character." Included are Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship and the Wittman center will be provided with "Character Counts" curriculum that will allow them to go into more detail with the children at the center.

"We put an emphasis on teaching our players what it means to be role models on & off the field here in Visalia." said Rawhide General Manager, Jennifer Pendergraft."When Commissioner Manfred unveiled his community initiative programs last year, they were very similar to the efforts already started in Visalia.With the help of our long-time Major League Affiliate, the Arizona Diamondbacks, we were able to tweak existing programs, and implement Manfred's Play Ball initiative in our own community - which demographics are quite different from the MLB Cities that Manfred is tackling.It's neat to see everyone coming together for the betterment of baseball - both on & off the field - and we could not do this without the support of the Diamondbacks!"

Throughout the "Play Ball" initiative, the progress and attendance of each child will be tracked and monitored as a way to gauge the overall success of the program at year's end. An initial demographic survey of all participants will start this process and roll will be taken at each scheduled event and clinic in order to track attendance and report other beneficial observations. The goals of the program are to have a 75% completion rate at seasons end and of those that complete the program have 100% be able to name the "Six Pillars of Character," say they have a better understanding of the game, will share their newly learned skills with friends and family and continue to be involved with the game of baseball as they grow. In order to ensure lasting success for the initiative, a return rate of 70% for the 2017 season is also a goal.

Images from this story

Visalia Rawhide and Children at Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia
Visalia Rawhide and Children at Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia

Visalia Rawhide and Children in Front of Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia
Visalia Rawhide and Children in Front of Dicks Sporting Goods in Visalia


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