The count is full, with three balls and two strikes. His team down by three runs, the batter steps up to the plate with the bases loaded.
And here’s the pitch! The batter swings….
But he doesn’t have a bat. Strike three!
While this scenario may be just a tiny bit exaggerated, the disadvantage such a lack of equipment places on a team is not. The fact is, when it comes to high school athletics, the playing field is far from level. This is especially apparent in baseball, a sport that requires several types of equipment in order to play.
Some schools can afford to provide their baseball teams with a brand new field, up to date pitching machines, and multiple styles of bat. Other schools are thankful just to have all of the appropriate protective.
Then there’s the Horizon Science Academy of Toledo. As of now, they don’t even have uniforms.
Damon Drewes is looking to change that. Prior to accepting employment at Horizon, the West Unity native’s experience in education had been mostly limited to substitute teaching. Now, he has a full-time, permanent position instructing the students of the Toledo charter school.
“This is my first real teaching job.” Drewes admitted.
As if the butterflies in his stomach weren’t active enough dealing with that, Drewes quickly added another responsibility to his role at Horizon. He was given the helm of the school’s baseball team. Having never coached the sport beyond five years of Little League back in West Unity, and garnering some minor experience coaching softball, Drewes isn’t quite sure what to expect during his inaugural season as a high school baseball coach.
One thing he won’t have to worry about is meeting a high standard set by his predecessors.
He doesn’t have any.
This will be the first year Horizon offers baseball to its student-athletes. This is the latest step in a goal to give those attending the institution just as many sports options as a public school. Another part of that effort also involved adding softball to their extra-curricular activities last Spring.
One of the major obstacles Coach Drewes is going to have to overcome is a lack of experience. Going so long without a baseball program means that students enrolled at Horizon had no reason to learn the game, at least for the most part.
“Probably seventy percent of the team has never played baseball.” Stated Drewes.
Of course, not having the sport also gave the school no reason to purchase equipment for it. So they have none. Well, that’s not completely true.
“I have a bag of balls that I take to practice.” Drewes Proclaimed, before adding, “And enough gloves for four kids.”
That’s not nearly enough gloves, either. During his initial meeting with interested student-athletes, Drewes had twenty-three kids sign up to participate in the new sport.
“There was quite a bit of interest at our first meeting.”
However, because it would be a struggle to get everyone the appropriate practice time, let alone playing time, Coach Drewes intends to cut that number down to fifteen by the beginning of the season. Depending on how this experiment turns out this year, Drewes is open to giving the younger high school students a squad of their own.
“I hope to add a junior varsity team next year.” Announced Drewes, who expressed concern over starting two teams in a single season.
So, with four gloves and a bag of balls, Drewes is severally lacking in the equipment necessary to field a team. They have no bats, no pads for a catcher, or even uniforms. In order to raise funds for these necessities, the first year coach has taken to the internet in the form of a fund raising website.
The site chosen by Drewes, GoFundMe.com, is one of the more popular fund raising sites on the world wide web. Like most similar sites, GoFundMe has its users set a goal of how much they wish to raise. Yet, unlike other such campaigning websites, this one allows the users to keep the funds raised, even if they don’t meet their previously established goal. The site takes five percent commission on any monies raised.
Three months ago, the former Hilltop Baseball player started a campaign in order to purchase equipment for his team, focusing mostly on uniforms. He set a goal of raising $2,600 by the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, with less than a month remaining until he reaches his deadline, Drewes has only seen $240 donated toward his cause.
He’s still optimistic, though. Drewes hopes not to have to approach the school board about procuring funds for the team. If he does, and they are unable to spare the money, he is absolutely determined not to ask the parents of his kids to cover the costs, particularly since some of them would have a hard time meeting such a financial requirement.
Horizon will play this season independent of any conference affiliation, opting to challenge the area public schools as there are too few charter schools currently carrying baseball. While that means most of their games will take place in Toledo, Drewes did happen to put a couple of familiar teams on the schedule. Horizon will be playing both Hilltop and Fayette this year.
Those wishing to look into Drewes efforts can check out his GoFundMe site at http://www.gofundme.com/fbvlzs.
T.J. Hug can be reached at