Learn more about PCA-Portland partner, Friends Of Baseball, in this in-depth interview below.
This interview was conducted with Nova Newcomer, Executive Director of Friends of Baseball. Nova has been a baseball fan for as long as she can remember. Her love of baseball started with Beaver games at Civic Stadium with her dad, then it was catching for her Powell and Parkrose Little League teams and four years of high school competition. Serving as Executive Director fulfills her personal passion to bring the dream of playing baseball and the important connections it creates to more of our state’s youth. Nova has a son who plays Little League and a daughter who is learning from the stands until she's old enough to play.
1. In one sentence, tell us the mission of Friends of Baseball.
Friends of Baseball exists to reach all kids through the life lessons inherent in the game.
2. Why baseball?
We like to say that "kids call baseball a game and adults call it a time machine." What makes baseball so powerful goes beyond the skills and the strategy -- it's about the memories and touchstones, the friendships, the failure and getting right back up again. At Friends of Baseball, we want the fun and joy of the game to reverberate on school grounds across the NW.
3. What made you decide to pursue after school programming with Full Count?
We started to receive grant requests that used to come just from organizations and leagues from individual parents. We heard about the economic hardships, family challenges, and housing instability that was making access to community baseball and softball difficult for families. Though we still offer player scholarships, we wanted to provide more than a band-aid. We wanted to bring baseball and softball to where the kids are -- to the school grounds -- to play our part in providing a safety net for communities at a critical time of day for students.
4. What makes the Full Count program so effective?
Our program doesn’t just look back with nostalgia about what baseball used to be, it looks ahead to the dreams of today’s children – using baseball as a vehicle of opportunity with a multi-disciplinary curriculum engaging the whole child. Some of our participants will become ballplayers and join organized play, but all will carry with them the tools of life that baseball uniquely provides beyond their playing days.
5. How many schools/programs does Friends of Baseball currently have operating?
For the 2016-17 school year, we will be in 5 school communities with our Full Count after school program with more to come in Summer and Fall '17.
6. Can you tell us one story of how FOB has impacted a student athlete?
A youth in one of our programs had a challenge staying in after school programs and specifically to our program, trouble staying in games and activities. One of our mentors wanted to interrupt this cycle for her and remembered that a youth in one of the other programs had used a "stress ball" to work with these same issues. The mentor talked with her about the possibility of using a "stress ball" and the girl said, "Yes, AND I know how to make them." So because one of our mentors looked past the behavior to see a young person who needed support to stay in, this young girl was able to bring the concept of making "stress balls" to all participants in the Full Count program and helping others use healthy self-care techniques.
7. FOB has partnered with PCA on several occasions, why do you like to partner with PCA?
Being able to reach a child through sport requires mentors with the commitment, resources, and skills to provide a safe and constructive learning environment where boys and girls can thrive. PCA's trainers, workshops, and tools makes that accessible to our coaches and mentors and we get to strengthen the whole system by speaking the same language across youth sports programs.
8. How does PCA help inform your work and impact your programming?
In so many ways, but a specific example is probably best. At our 2016 Coaches Clinic, one of the trainers taught our coaches the "mistake ritual" and we decided that we should add that to our toolbox for our after school programs. Now, all of our program mentors train youth to use or create their own "mistake rituals" to bounce back from failure or disappointment.
9. If you had one wish for the kids in Oregon, what would it be?
To have a place to fail safely -- where failure is just a part of learning and growing and it isn't the difference between not making it and surviving -- and that learning to play ball is a part of that safety net for the kids who need it.
10. Who is going to win the world series next year?
The Chicago Cubs are definitely the odds on favorites with their young, talented lineup, but baseball is funny that way. Look out for a hungry team in 2017 to surprise everyone and make it a contest.