BELOIT— Long before the youth baseball season began, the Stateline Family YMCA has already hit a home run.
The organization received a $25,000 donation by an individual who requests to remain anonymous. The YMCA is choosing to use the funds to cut costs to the baseball program across all areas of their program.
“Our prices used to be about 200 dollars per player,” Director of Community Engagement Jaron Bertelsen said. “Everything is nearly cut in half now in terms of cost. We have always felt, with the complex we have and the amount of games teams play, that we’ve given our players and parents good value. But if you had two or three kids in the program, that could be up to $600. That’s pricey, and we do feel like it might have driven some people away. Hopefully we can eliminate some of that reason now.”
Bertelsen said that while all members of the program will be included in the discount, the YMCA is specifically earmarking funds for those who have never played before.
“We are working closely with the Boys and Girls Club and the school district to find a group of kids where baseball could be a passion,” Bertelsen said. “These are kids who haven’t had the opportunity to play before, but they might be interested. We are now able to do some heavy financial assistance for those kids, and maybe they play the entire season for just the cost of the uniform. If we can get 50 kids involved in the program, and maybe set up a bus to help with transportation, that can be a huge impact. Our program provides a great place to play in a safe environment. We haven’t raised the cost of our program in 13 years, and now we’ve lowered it to increase participation. Our registration numbers have actually gone up the last three years, but we are hoping for a big bump this season.”
Bertelsen said he believes getting kids involved in the baseball program could have many benefits, both for the short and long-term.
“The summer is a unique time because there isn’t a whole lot else that is going on,” Bertelsen said. “And summer is a long time for kids to just sit on their hands. And then there’s the typical benefit of sports, where kids learn teamwork, find camaraderie with their teammates and hopefully get a really strong role model in their coach. There are a lot of studies out there that refer to increased graduation rates, attendance in college and things like that are a result of keeping kids involved and active in extracurricular activities. This is a great place to start.”
Registration for the programs began last week and runs through March 10. The programs serve ages from three to 15.