Former player Noah Lowry supports Junior Giants in Santa Rosa
Some of Noah Lowry’s fondest childhood memories are of the volunteer coaches who helped teach him the game he loves.
The former San Francisco Giants pitcher - and a Santa Rosa resident - hopes to help continue that tradition with his support of a Santa Rosa Junior Giants program, a free, non-competitive co-ed baseball league for at-risk kids ages 5 to 13.
Getting ready to kick off its inaugural Sonoma County season next month, the program is a cooperative effort of Santa Rosa’s recreation and parks department and the nonprofit Giants Community Fund.
“It may be a story or a game or a coaching perspective,” said Lowry of what he recalls about his former mentors. “They had an influence on my life.”
On Tuesday, Lowry, Junior Giants representatives and Santa Rosa city recreation supervisors put out the call for volunteer coaches and parents to help get the program off and running. There are still about 100 spots open for players.
Next to a perfectly groomed youth baseball field at Southwest Community Park on Hearn Avenue, which the Junior Giants and the city recently renovated, organizers described the program as a sort-of Little League that teaches kids valuable life lessons along with how to field grounders.
Junior Giants is the flagship program of the Giants Community Fund, which collaborates with the San Francisco Giants to provide programs to 20,000 kids in 85 communities from Central California to southern Oregon and Nevada.
The “four bases” of the Junior Giants program are leadership, integrity, confidence and teamwork, said Elliot North, the Junior Giants Santa Rosa ambassador.
No scores are kept during their games, placing a higher emphasis on building character than wins and losses.
Youngsters, divided into T-ballers and divisions of under-9 and under-13, are challenged to read each day, discuss a “word of the week” and participate in team-building exercises.
When kids pass milestones - like eating healthy each week or reading a certain amount each day - they win incentives including Giants baseball cards, wristbands, a fitness-tracking bracelet and more. Those who reach the highest goals are invited to the Junior Giants Festival before a Giants game at AT&T Park.
“There are a lot of neat ways to get the kids involved beyond just the game,” Lowry said.
Lowry pitched for the Giants from 2003 to 2007, leaving the sport after arm injuries cut short his promising career. He and his wife are raising their two girls in here and for several years he has co-owned the Santa Rosa Ski & Sport outdoor store on West Steele Lane.
Lowry is encouraging other parents to get involved as both coaches and team parents. There will be about 18 teams broken down by age group, totaling nearly 300 kids who will need baseball and life mentors.
Sign-ups are ongoing for players and for coaches, who will all need to attend meetings and have background checks completed before games start June 24. Practices are scheduled for mid-June.
“The game of baseball taught me a lot about life, outside of just playing a game,” Lowry said. “With the addition of the Junior Giants, it’s only going to help better the community.”
For more information on signing up: http://srcity.org/departments/recreationandparks/programs/neighborhood/programs/Pages/JrGiants.aspx
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 521-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @loriacarter.
Lori A. Carter
Sonoma County courts and Rohnert Park, The Press Democrat
Local journalism is vital to a community's wellbeing, and that means keeping an eye on what happens in our justice system and our communities. I cover Sonoma County courts, as well as the city of Rohnert Park. In my work, I want to share the stories that affect our daily lives and, yes, maybe even rile us up.