SAY Detroit and Full Count Foundation (FCF) are working in partnership to provide a high-quality baseball experience to enhance and develop the baseball, personal, physical, and intellectual skills of inner city children. The program is led by SAY Play Baseball Coordinator Kirthmon Dozier Jr., FCF's founder who is also head varsity baseball coach at University Prep High School.
By partnering with SAY Detroit, FCF has been able to continue its mission of providing inner city kids with the baseball resources they normally wouldn’t have access to. That started this winter with our free baseball clinics given every weekend and including University Prep High School's varsity baseball/softball teams to SAY Play.
Despite COVID-19’s dramatic changes to our lives, FCF has been influential throughout the City of Detroit baseball community as one of the few baseball programs currently active. We are the only baseball program on the eastside of Detroit thanks to SAY Play’s support. Once we were allowed back outside, we entered our 18 and under team in the Detroit PAL League and set up independent games for our 12 and under team where games were hosted at SAY Play.
Every Sunday, our free winter baseball camps saw an average of 50 student-athletes from around the local community and Metro Detroit. Participants aged 6-20 years old, and were primarily African American and Hispanic kids who have been a part of the Full Count Foundation in different capacities. The clinics were led by Coach Dozier Jr., for 11 consecutive weeks, utilizing SAY Play’s gym, dance room, and basement. Participants were broken into two sessions by age, 6-12 and 13 - 19
The collaboration with University Prep High School (UPREP) was very unique compared to other high school sports programs throughout the city. Coach Dozier came up with the collaboration as a way to enhance the athletic culture within SAY Play. Prior to this collaboration, SAY Play baseball team was not well-known through the local baseball community. This is in comparison to SAY Play’s state-winning POP Warner Football Team and its competitive PAL basketball program.
For three days a week, the varsity baseball and softball players were picked up from school by SAY Play’s shuttle vans, participated in the Digital Education Enrichment Program (DEEP), and one hour of baseball training. According to DEEP staff and throughout the center, the UPREP student-athletes had a positive influence over the younger SAY Play members by modeling behavior. Due to COVID-19, they never got to have a single season game with so many players being seniors and juniors.
We have some of the best inner city high school baseball players participating in our baseball program. One of our players (Jarren Purify) has committed to the University of Michigan to play baseball. He is only 14 years old and a local kid from the eastside of Detroit. Another one of our 14-year-old players, Amare Snowden, just received his first college offer to the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. He stays directly across the street from SAY Play and has two brothers who are active SAY Play members. Every player on our high school team has the talent level to play collegiately and some professionally.
Our COVID-19-plagued summer baseball program has been spent as follows:
- Strength and Conditioning three days a week with a trainer on the Stafford football field while practicing social distancing.
- Hitting lessons from former Detroit Tiger Ike Blessitt in his home made cages located minutes away from SAY Play
- Practices and games throughout the week.
Coming up in August, we are finishing up our PAL season as we prepare for a playoff run and continuing to schedule home games for our 12 and under team at The Honorable Judge Damon J. Keith Field at SAY Play. Socially-distanced cowds of 30-40 people have been in attendance of the baseball games so far. Our goal is to change the stigma of the neighborhood by showcasing our youth on a positive platform for the neighborhood to see. We have been successful in doing that so far. Tentatively in August we are putting together a college showcase event strictly for our student-athletes with the help of a Major League Baseball Scout from the Cincinnati Reds. This is a solution we have come up with to help those juniors and seniors who missed out on some of the most important years of high school sports.