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Batter Up: CPS Continues Fun At Bat Program with Reds Community Fund

More than 4,600 CPS students learned the basics of baseball and softball this school year, thanks to the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund’s Fun At Bat program. That includes Roberts Academy kindergartener Shaud Redd.

Shaud, who likes watching Reds games at Great American Ball Park, latched onto the program because his mother, Sasha Young, plays slow-pitch softball and coaches at the high school level. This is his first year playing organized t-ball.

“I know it's something that Shaud wants to do and he looks forward to doing,” Young said. “I really do love seeing all the kids coming out, the coaches taking their time to be here and help the kids learn the sport. I'm really eager to see it grow.”

Fun At Bat, in partnership with USA Baseball, teaches students the sport in fresh and exciting ways. Physical education teachers fold fundamentals of the game like batting, fielding and throwing into their lessons, and students are able to workshop their skills on the diamond through after-school activities.

The program supplies equipment, resources and educational materials and offers t-ball to students at no cost. For District Athletics Manager Josh Hardin, the Fun At Bat partnership is clearly a homerun.

“We know we’re aligned with the Reds and the Reds Community Fund and the City of Cincinnati on reinvigorating baseball and softball through the city and in our community,” Hardin said.

The program is a great first experience for young children new to the sport. Positive encouragement and feedback, plus a softer bat and ball, take the stress away from students playing for the first time.

Covedale School physical education/health education teacher and t-ball coach Jennifer Curtis says the focus isn’t on winning or losing. Instead, it’s all about learning new skills, fostering personal growth and, most importantly, having fun.

“We discuss character traits like teamwork and responsibility and tie those to our practice, as well as work to transfer those traits to the classroom and home,” Curtis said. “Overall, we want a healthy environment that produces more well-rounded kids."

Elementary Athletics Coordinator Brent Langhorne said CPS wants to create synergy between elementary, junior high and high school students, including within athletics. Fun At Bat does just that.

“It is so important to not only teach the fundamentals of sport, but to do so the right way,” Langhorne said. “We know this is an important stage in our students’ development. We are excited to provide as many elementary opportunities as possible through our programming as well as community partnerships.”

Shaud and his Roberts teammates joined students from 15 other CPS elementary school t-ball teams May 9 and May 11  at the Reds Youth Academy in Roselawn for a field day to celebrate the end of this year’s Fun At Bat program. The students met Reds mascot Gapper and went head-to-head on the field for some spirited competition before enjoying lunch to celebrate a successful season and school year.

“I work to make sure students get the opportunity to experience every different type of activity and sport that I can,” Roberts Academy physical education teacher Jeff Campbell said. “Programs like this build on the experience that they have in my P.E. class and help make them love the game of baseball even more.”