Let's Play Ball!
By Brandi Barnett
Q97 SnapshotJune 2015
By Billy Pilgrim
I wish I had known Art Wooden personally, because he embodied and put into practice the same things I believe in - that every kid should have the opportunity to play ball.
I have coached youth baseball and softball for the better part of my adult life, and Art did, too. He devoted his time and energy to give children in our community the joyful experience of playing team sports.
I was introduced to Art’s legacy and foundation through one of my daughter’s coaches, Kelly Hornbuckle, quite a ballplayer herself. I learned that Art loved kids, loved ball, and made quite a name for himself coaching kids in our community. You may have known Art as a Shasta County Sheriff. The kids he coached remember him as a man who made a difference in their lives, encouraging them on the diamonds and in the hitting cages of our town. For many of these kids, the time at practice or at the game was the best part of their day. Art Wooden gave of his time unselfishly so our youth could learn many of the life skills that come from playing sports, like teamwork and unselfishness, confidence and self esteem. And the feeling a kid gets when they put on a uniform with their own number on the back.
Art passed to the eternal field of dreams in 2013, and his legacy continues with the Art Wooden Play Ball! Foundation. It is dedicated to giving children with financial disadvantages a chance to play. It has been estimated there are 12,000 kids in Shasta County living below the poverty line. Playing sports can be spendy. Registration can be anywhere from $65 to $100. Add a glove, pants, a bat bag, a bat and cleats and it’s easy to spend another $200, putting team ball out of the reach of many families. The Art Wooden Play Ball! Foundation gives financial assistance, equipment and education to kids who need a little help to get in the game.
You can be a part of this wonderful organization and make a lasting difference in a kid’s life. Become a sponsor or a donor. Nominate a child for a scholarship. Come to the annual Home Run Derby Fundraiser in late August at Softball Park. There is plenty of information available on the website www.ArtWoodenPlayBall.org. Step up to the plate and spread the light into a child’s life. God Bless Art Wooden.