Midfield High opens gofundme account to improve baseball field … – WBRC FOX6 News – WBRC.com


Shermaine Hollis is a seventh grader at Rutledge Middle School, but this year he’ll play third base for Midfield High School. He tried out for the team in December and has been practicing with varsity players since January.

“We’re a good school.” said Hollis. “Some folks try to downplay us, but if you really see us, we’re pretty good.”

Hollis has been playing park ball since the age of three and has participated in four travel teams, including in Mountain Brook and Trussville. But Midfield is home to this impressive 13-year-old with a big swing and he knows his team doesn’t lack talent or heart.

What Midfield needs is a new ball field. The current facility lacks basics like working lights, field dirt and nets for the batting cages and dugouts. The school system is hoping a new approach to fundraising may finally turn things around.

“If you don’t have all the equipment, you deter your players,” said Midfield Baseball Coach Franklin Byner. “You actually make them feel like they’re not learning nothing. My first priority is to make these guys responsible young men in their community,” he said.

The school system’s athletic director opened a gofundme account with the goal of raising $50,000 so the field can undergo a complete overhaul.

Midfield School Superintendent Demica Sanders admitted raising funds online is an unconventional approach by a public school system, but because baseball and softball are not money-making sports, new funding to improve the ball field is needed.

“We have tried various avenues to raise funds in the past, but to no avail. The school system felt that this was one way to get the word out to the public about the immediate needs of our baseball field in hopes that by reaching a wider audience, we will be able to raise more funds,” Sanders wrote in a statement to WBRC.

Byner said he’s made small changes with the little resources they have. Last year he added a long overdue pitcher’s mound, but improving the field’s drainage system and adding lights is beyond the budget the school system can provide. Not having working lights means the team must stop practice when the sun goes down, sometimes right around the time the players have just warmed up.

“They kinda miss out,” said Byner. “We do enjoy doing it, but safety is first. When that ball is moving you cannot play in the dark.” he said. 

Making improvements to the field is about more than baseball and softball. Byner said the entire community of Midfield is ready for positive change and needs a clean, safe place for kids to play and stay out of trouble.

“What if they want to come up and hit the bat for an hour every day?” he said. “The facility is there for them, this is their school. It serves the whole community,” he said.

“A troubled child can just be a moment away from being a changed person,” he added.

Shermaine Hollis’s mom Toni King supports the fundraising effort.

“We want them to be able to play on the same level as any school like Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Hoover, because we have some talented kids,” said King.  “Our hope is to bring our program up to par with those other schools so we can compete on the same level and be in playoffs and make it all the way to state because that’s what we want them to do,” she said. 

Hollis believes they can do it. He said he’s not nervous playing with older guys and hopes to do his best and keep striving for his goals.

“My dream is to make it to the MLB so I can give back to the community and help my mom,” said Hollis.

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