Hart High School baseball players took a day off from practicing to teach kids with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley some baseball skills Thursday.
The A Day at the Field baseball clinic was put on hold last year due to COVID-19, so participants, both young and old, were excited for its return.
“It’s a year-and-a-half in the making,” said John Kim, area director for the Boys & Girls Club of SCV. “The kids love it. They were looking forward to it … and just excited to go outdoors.”
Through the morning, kids participated in different skill stations with the assistance of the Hart High junior varsity and varsity baseball teams and coaches, including Matthew Perez, a shortstop and second baseman.
“I just want to help out the kids, help them get better at baseball and show them a little bit about (the sport),” Perez said, adding that he’s been playing for 10 years, so he remembers when he was their age. “It’s fun.”
“When you’re teaching, you’re learning and you’re coaching,” added Matt Nelson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV. “It’s a win-win.”
For many of the players, the clinic was also a welcome break from grueling summer practices.
“These guys are all out here competing for spots in camp, so they’re hustling every day in the heat, and it’s great for them to be able to take a break and remember what it was like to be a kid again,” added Steve Downs, president of the Hart High Dugout Club, the boosters for Hart High baseball. “It’s all about hard work right now, and they don’t see the fun in it sometimes. … It helps them when they connect with the kids to remember why they play this game.”
Many of the kids look up to the players, who can often be seen practicing at the Hart baseball fields just across the parking lot from the Boys & Girls Club’s Newhall Clubhouse.
“I think it’s a great role model for them,” Kim added. “The (players) almost feel like stars to them because they’re little.”
The baseball clinic is just one of many summer programs offered by the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, who’ve been working to provide children and teens with fun and enriching programs and activities in a safe environment, from fun outdoor and indoor games to educational programs.
“This summer we’re focused on the physical and mental health of our club members,” Nelson said. “We are providing an engaging program at all three of our locations that empowers youth. Summer is about fun and new experiences that build self-esteem, confidence and great memories. That’s what kids and teens need right now.
A new summer program was launched in Val Verde thanks to a $140,000 donation through Los Angeles County’s Community Services Block Grant with support from Supervisor Kathryn Barger and in partnership with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation.
The club’s summer day camp hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at three locations, including the James T. Ventress Clubhouse (24909 Newhall Ave.), Sierra Vista Clubhouse (19425 Stillmore St. in Canyon Country) and Val Verde (30300 Arlington St.).
For more information, visit scvbgc.org.