The Cincinnati Reds are a professional baseball team in the MLB, but every summer they take their expertise to the grassroots levels to coach and inspire young kids in local Cincinnati communities.
The Reds youth baseball and softball camps began in 2012, so this summer was the program’s sophomore year.
According to the Reds baseball camps executive director Tim Rappé, inspiration to start these camps came from the Reds’ desire to have a bigger impact on the community.
“Cincinnati is already a spectacular baseball town, but the Reds didn’t play that big a role in it,” said Rappé. “So they made it part of their mission to dedicate the Reds Community Fund to the baseball and softball education of kids throughout Reds country. “
The camps are open to boys and girls from ages six to fourteen, all around the Cincinnati area, in places like Mason, Columbus, Dayton, Lexington, Louisville, and Indianapolis. Each different location has a camp that runs for five days, from 9 AM to 3 PM—a total of thirty hours. According to Rappé, “a lot of things happen in thirty hours and they’re not all baseball.”
Rappé emphasizes the importance of other skills outside of just baseball, such as teamwork, respect, confidence, and proper manners that are taught at the camp.
“Baseball is the medium through which we can communicate those things…we care a lot more about you as a teammate than as a baseball player, so let’s be a good teammate first then work on the baseball skills…” Rappé said.
“We have an opportunity to share with them a different view of our game, one that they’re not necessarily seeing on Sports Center at night or reading in the newspapers,” according to Rappé. “Our message is…about respecting this game and having respect for…yourself and the kids around you and acting accordingly…that’s [the] important message—and baseball can help [teach] that.”
The camps are a true form of community outreach because though they can make a monumental impact on the kids, they don’t provide any major benefits to the Reds—at least not financially, said Rappé.
“Hopefully the payoff is that if they’re not Reds fans they become Reds fans,” Rappé said. “And if they are, they stay Reds fans by having this…page in their memory book that we hope will last the rest of their lives.”
But the basic philosophy of these camps goes beyond simply promoting the Reds or even scouting for local talent.
“We are a camp of inclusion and not exclusion,” Rappé said. “We try to get anybody who loves the Reds and…wants to learn how to play baseball.”
By combining the pure passion and true spirit of the game with expert knowledge and techniques in these baseball and softball camps, the Reds are able to really touch the lives of kids in their communities.
Rappé uses his famous bumblebee speech to further inspire the kids at camp.
“The bumblebee story is that all the scientific evidence would indicate the bumblebee, because of its big body and little tiny wings, cannot fly,” Rappé said.
The moral of the story is that it all comes down to confidence. Apart from proper mechanics that are taught at the camp, athletes must have confidence and an “undeniable refusal to be denied,” Rappé said.
The MLB is of course very competitive and any aspiring baseball player will find naysayers, but here is Rappé’s piece of advice: “you need to have a little bit of the bumblebee in you…and either not hear them or tell ‘em to buzz off because if it’s important to you, you do it anyway.”
*Check out pictures from the Reds’ camp in Mason, OH: http://thecspn.com/?p=16360