Fields of Green: The YMCA of Greater Kansas City, Little League Challenger Division Create Environment of Pride, Success
“Since the first years, the overall YMCA program has blossomed, and Little League Baseball, by far, is our most popular activity,” Ms. Ford said. “We added divisions to help address interest. Our biggest success has been through word-of-mouth with parents. The interest from parents has shown that they are vested long-term in our program, while the kids love getting the patches for their uniforms.”
When the decision was made to improve and broaden the baseball program, the next step was to provide an equally ambitious field complex. Ms. Ford said fundraising efforts began immediately.
The original design for the Challenger field was developed by a group of seniors in the Pryor Leadership Legacy Class at nearby William Jewel College. Quickly, the initial one-field concept grew into a larger complex.
“The YMCA and many volunteers have collectively raised about $2.9 million over four years for the Challenger Division Field project and the overall park complex,” Ms. Ford said. “Second-phase fundraising for the remainder of the field projects is currently ongoing with $1.7 million as the goal.”
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City worked with a variety of public service agencies, and sent information about their program to more than 100 agencies and schools as part of their public relations and fundraising efforts. Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals and former Royals third baseman Mark Teahen played a key role in connecting with the Little League program, specifically the Challenger Division; as did Populous (a leading design firm that specializes in sports facilities), which currently has more than 80 employees volunteering in the Challenger Division program.
The YMCA offers summer and fall baseball seasons. The Challenger Division games are played three nights a week and Ms. Ford expects that number to increase to four nights per week as a result of the new field.
“We’re interested in working with YMCAs in other cities and counties to build other fields,” Ms. Ford said. “Now people will be able to come see the facility and they will want one in their community.”
To find out more about the YMCA of Greater Kansas City Challenger Sports Complex contact Ms. Ford at 8716-360-3304; or e-mail: MichelleFord@KansasCityYMCA.org.
For more information on Little League Baseball and Softball or Little League’s Challenger Division, contact Sam Ranck, Director of the Little League Challenger Division, at: sranck@LittleLeague.org; call: 570-326-1921, ext. 254; or visit the Little League Challenger page on Facebook, at: www.facebook.com/LittleLeagueChallenger.