Rookie league has grown at our Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters clubs in Edmonton. Four years ago it consisted of a one day event where a number of children came to a ball diamond to play some modified games. Today it is an eight week program at three different sites. It’s not only about teaching baseball, but using baseball to teach life lessons.

Each week of the program takes a baseball skill, such as hitting, and matches it to a life skill such as perseverance. Before children even warm up for practice they sit in a group and talk out the day. For example, the practice that focuses on perseverance explored that many Hall of Fame baseball players have a batting average of around .300. Simply put, they would only hit the ball 3 out of 10 times. This means the all-star baseball players had to be comfortable striking out 7 out of 10 times. Despite being challenged and being unsuccessful 70% of the time at reaching their goals, all-stars would show perseverance at the plate. As a group we explore where this lesson of perseverance can apply to other areas of life such as school, friendships, and family. What is so powerful is seeing the children use this messaging throughout the club and outside the program itself. During other activities in the summer, children would use the 3 out of 10 stat as a way to make peers feel better when things would not go their way. This was especially true for three competitive brothers who joined us every day during summer. When one brother would be frustrated with not winning at soccer, being tagged during a game of tag at the park, or even when challenged while reading, the other brothers would say “3 out of 10”.

For the past three years we have run this modified version of rookie league at two different clubs. The children who have participated have always been excited. Many mornings as children enter the club they often ask if it is rookie league day. At the end of the summer, we always have a big baseball day where we test our skills, and share stories of commitment, perseverance and team work from the various weeks of Rookie League. Often it is the unlikely hero who stands out in the competition, such as the youngest or shortest participant. This summer’s celebration had more than 70 children attend from different clubs around the city, it also had three different volunteer groups participate in ensuring the event ran smoothly. Our latest event in August had a lot of smoke in the air, not only from the fires in British Columbia, but from the heaters thrown by the children!

In the picture below is of some of the Rookie league Heroes receiving hats and shirts for having the best pitch.

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