Author: Christina M. Apt
Over the past few weeks, Buffalo has been in the national media spotlight due to Major League Baseball (MLB) returning to Queen City for the first time in 105 years. However, the MLB powers that are recently upped the intensity of this local spotlight, designating the Willie Hutch Jones Sports and Education Program of Buffalo (WHJESP) as a member of their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
The main mission of the MLB RBI program is to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth, and to promote greater inclusion of young people of diverse backgrounds into the mainstream of the game. accomplish their mission by creating new game divisions that provide baseball and softball opportunities to children ages 5 to 12, which also serve as food for baseball and softball divisions 13 to 18. MLB vice president of baseball and softball development David James said the decision to add “Team Hutch” to their program was clear.
âWhen we looked at the Willie Hutch Jones educational and athletic program, we looked at their mission and their results,â James said. “What we found is that they are exactly the type of foundational program that we are looking for, to help us build a solid foundation for the development of baseball and softball in the downtown areas of the United States.” . That’s why we’re here to make this announcement today. Provide these kinds of opportunities to underserved youth in the Buffalo community.
Under the direction and direction of Buffalo Native and former NBA / LA Lakers player Willie “Hutch” Jones, WHJESP has grown into a year-round program offering clinics, academic enhancements, foreign language studies. , performing arts, competitive chess, football and science. clubs, and workshops to improve social and personal development. Jones notes that the MLB RBI designation will increase the reach of their program, as he enters his 37e summer season later this month.
âWe’ve made major strides over the past three decades partnering with like-minded organizations, such as the Omega Mentorship Program, hosted at the Wiley Pavilion under the leadership of Executive Director Cedric Holloway,â Jones said. âReceiving this support for our Major League Baseball softball and baseball programs will allow us to join with other members of the WNY RBI, the Northtowns and the East Aurora Boys and Girls Clubs, in reaching many more children. There are girls and boys in the neighborhoods of our city who will now have the opportunity to have a better life through this program and we are grateful to the MLB for nominating us as an RBI Affiliate.
The RBI program will launch at WHJESP baseball clinics this summer, and for the first time at girls’ softball clinics, all of which begin July 19.e and until August 20. The courses will be held at Masten Field adjacent to the Johnny B. Wiley Amateur Sports Pavilion, Demske Field at Canisius College, and Riverside Park and Shoshone Park Fields. MLB Senior Coordinator for Baseball and Softball Development Steve Smiegocki is excited to add “The Hutch Team” to the RBI program.
âI look forward to returning to Buffalo to continue to help develop softball and baseball programs that will impact the youth of the community. One of the beauties of RBI is that it has the flexibility to provide programming locally based on the skill levels of the participants. It can be recreational, or it can be a more formal league game. We want to make sure that every child has the opportunity to PLAY BALL.
For more information on the Willie Hutch Jones educational and sports program: whjsc.org or call (716) 715-4980.
For more information on the MLB RBI program: www.mlb.com/rbi
Main picture: Charles Johnson, Esq., President Willie Hutch Jones Education and Sports Program, Steve Smiegocki, MLB Senior Coordinator for Baseball and Softball Development, Willie “Hutch” Jones, Founder and Director Education and Sports Program Willie Hutch, David L. James, MLB Vice President, Baseball and Softball Development
and Leroi Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Directors Willie Hutch Jones.
Christina M. Abt is an accomplished magazine editor, Heart & Soul columnist, WBFO radio commentator / broadcaster and bestselling author.