On a sunny, July Saturday morning, approximately 35 kids joined StartLine’s adult mentors and trainers at a soccer field in the Mokotow district of Warsaw. But on this day, there were no soccer balls to dribble, pass or shoot. Instead, kids traded them in for smaller spherical objects and were treated to an introductory clinic in a sporting activity often described as “America’s Pastime” – baseball.
The day couldn’t have started any better. Before diving into teaching baseball, we launched the event with relay races to get the kids’ blood pumping, then quickly followed it with another unique experience: Zumba! Charlotte Kristensen, Danish native and former zumba instructor, blended this Brazilian-originated dance/fitness activity with Indian-inspired music, to create a truly international experience! To see the kids moving to the rhythm of the foreign music and following Charlotte’s and dance assistant Zosia Michalska’s zumba steps, was a sight not to be missed. The kids absolutely loved it.
With the kids properly warmed up, it was time for baseball! We divided everyone into 3 smaller groups, tailoring the learning experience to the age level of each child. Our instructors taught kids how to properly throw and catch, hit, run the bases and play defense. “I was amazed at how much the kids liked and got into the game”, said Pawel Jodko, Polish baseball enthusiast and event instructor. “They were very interested in what it was about.” Spectating parents got a taste for the game as well, and were very grateful for the opportunity to have their kids’ involved in something new. “The baseball clinic was a great opportunity for Polish kids to get exposed to the famous American game for the first time”, says Teresa Pereira, whose daughter and son participated in the event.
While teaching baseball, we incorporated the use of English as much as we could – combining physical activity with the opportunity to interact in a foreign language. It was critical for us to not only involve knowledgeable baseball enthusiasts but also integrate Polish/English bilingual support. One of those valuable individuals was Tomek Kowalski. “Personally I’m not very familiar with baseball but I like the atmosphere of StartLine Foundation events”, said Tomek. “I will be very happy to participate as a volunteer in future editions of the baseball clinic.”
The event attracted nationals from Denmark, Columbia, India, Portugal, Scotland, South Korea,the United States and of course Poland. We welcomed children and their supervising caretakers from wonderful after-school programs in Warsaw such as Otwarte Drzwi (“Open Doors”). It was truly an international day, which is what StartLine Foundation is all about. StartLine’s goal is to spark curiosity, spread the wonders of multiculturism and help kids stay healthy through sports participation. On this particular July morning, the organization achieved all three.
Check out StartLine’s photo album from the day: 2017 Baseball Clinic Photo Album
Finally, a big thank you to all the event volunteers: Andy & Josh Eddles (England), Charlotte Kristensen (Denmark), Dan Miller (USA), Kristin Hartwell (USA), Mark Mulrainey (Scotland), Monika Borowiec (Poland), Pawel Jodko (Poland), Peter Ostrowski (USA), Tomek Kowalski (Poland), Tristan Sakura (USA), Vibek Dutta (India), and Zosia Michalska (Poland).