20240528 image2

Students practice baseball throwing and catching.

DEAEF’s Youth Baseball Program Strikes Out Drugs and Brings a Healthy Outlet to Kids in Cleveland Area

This spring, the DEA Educational Foundation’s Youth Baseball Program (YBP) brought more than just baseball skills to the students of Brown Middle School in Ravenna, Ohio. It delivered an unforgettable experience that combined sports, mentorship, and life lessons.

In April 2024, sixteen eager 6th graders—nine boys and seven girls—embarked on a 20-session baseball journey. Meeting twice a week after school, these young athletes gathered in the school gymnasium, ready to learn and play under the guidance of YBP Coach Kodie McCully and Assistant Coach Dave Street. Both coaches, with years of experience in the Cleveland baseball scene, dedicated themselves to teaching the fundamentals of the game while fostering a supportive and drug-free environment.

The sessions were more than just an hour of physical activity. They were a blend of skill-building, teamwork, and personal growth. Each practice and game became a platform for the students to develop not only their athletic abilities but also their confidence and camaraderie.

Students and coach watched the Cleveland Guardians take on the Detroit Tigers.

Students and coach watched the Cleveland Guardians take on the Detroit Tigers.

A highlight of the program was a special treat organized by Coach Rick Zeitlin, DEAEF Youth Baseball National Director. Before the program concluded, Coach Rick arranged for the students and their guardians to attend a Major League Baseball game. The excitement was palpable as the students watched the Cleveland Guardians take on the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers may have taken home the win, but the real victory was the joy and inspiration the students felt. One lucky student even had their moment of fame, appearing on the jumbotron—a memory that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

As the program wrapped up, it was clear that the impact of YBP extended beyond the gym. The school district's decision to eliminate sports programs next year makes the continuation of the YBP even more critical. YBP offers these students a vital opportunity to stay engaged in sports, promoting healthy lifestyles and steering them away from drugs and negative influences.

DEAEF YBP is eagerly looking forward to the fall of 2024, ready to return and continue making a positive difference in the lives of Cleveland’s youth. The program’s success this spring is a testament to the power of sports in creating lasting, positive change.

Students and coaches pose for a group photo.

Students and coaches pose for a group photo.

Celebrating 5 years!

The Youth Baseball Program is celebrating 5 years. If you haven't already done so, today is the last day of our campaign so there's still time!

by Meredith Liepelt

Updated May 31, 2024