Blue Jays players Neil Wagner, Mickey Storey and Thad Weber joined 1,300 children and youth from 56 Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods at Rogers Centre on August 15 to celebrate the finale of the 2013 Rookie League season.
The Rookie League summer baseball day-camp is sponsored by the Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation. 2013 marks the 25th season of Rookie League in Toronto.
The Blue Jays �Ace� flew over to cheer on the Rookie Leaguers
A Rookie Leaguer takes a moment to smile and say hi to her fans back home
�Rookie League has grown so much over 25 years, and it�s currently one of the largest programs Toronto Community Housing is offering in its Year of the Youth initiative,� said Gene Jones, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing. �I�m so proud to see so many kids, youth and staff working together to focus on skills both on and beyond the baseball diamond, like making friends, building leadership, developing teamwork skills and practicing fair play.�
Toronto Community Housing President and CEO Gene Jones thanks all the players and staff for a great 25th anniversary year
Following a hot dog lunch, all Rookie Leaguers were given a backpack full of school supplies and enjoyed an afternoon on Centre Island. Children and youth from each neighbourhood played in the Rookie League All-Star game, and cheered on their friends who received the Coaches of the Year Awards and Teamwork & Sportsmanship Awards. Later that evening, all participants returned to the ballpark to watch the Jays take on the Boston Red Sox.
Blue Jays Neil Wagner (left), Thad Weber (centre) and Mickey Storey (right) stand alongside the Coach of the Year award winners
�I was able to hang out with my friends and got to play a sport that I love,� said Tameila Ramsay, Toronto Community Housing resident and Rookie League player from Gordonridge. �During Rookie League, I had a lot of fun feeling the adrenaline while running the bases and hitting the ball.�
Rookie Leaguers have enjoyed seven weeks of baseball programming at Stan Wadlow Park, Smythe Park, McGregor Park, and in their communities. They have learned baseballs skills and gained the important life skills that come from being part of a team. Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, infielders Brett Lawrie and Rajai Davis, and pitcher Brandon Morrow served as Honorary Division Captains and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons served as Honorary Manager for the summer.
1,300 children and youth attended Rogers Centre.
�The most beneficial part of Rookie League was being able to have an impact on the youth in my community while developing my leadership skills,� said Jamal Beckles, Toronto Community Housing resident and Rookie League Community Champion from Swansea. �I loved seeing how excited the children get on Rookie League days - traveling to different places and meeting people really encourages them to come everyday.�
The 2013 Rookie League season was made possible through the generous contributions of the following Jays Care Foundation supporters: CIBC Children�s Foundation, City of Toronto, East York Minor Baseball Association, Maple Leaf Foods, Rawlings, Sue Vale, Toronto Police Services, Toronto Parks Forestry and Rec, Victor Cameron Foundation and York Minor Baseball Association.
About Rookie League
Each summer, the Jays Care Foundation in partnership with Toronto Community Housing runs Rookie League, a summer-long baseball day-camp. Rookie League gives participants the opportunity to play, learn and enjoy the game of baseball. Celebrating its 25th season in 2013, Rookie League helps to build strong communities by teaching life lessons about teamwork, leadership and fair play, on and off the field. Rookie League also provides opportunities for physical fitness, health and nutrition education, and encourages participants to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Learn more about Rookie League here