Students, Springfield police develop relationships through baseball – Springfield News Sun

A new after-school program called Badges for Baseball encourages kids to get active and develop relationships with Springfield police officers.

Badges for Baseball begins its second session at Hayward Middle School this fall.

Linda Shaffer, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters helps coordinate the program, but participation is not limited to youth who are part of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Shaffer reported that a total of 42 local students were involved last school year.

Hayward students can register to play alongside Springfield police officers like Matthew Buynek and Jason Phillips.

“The goal is to help build a bridge between the community and police officers in the realm of baseball mostly, but not completely,” Phillips said. “Kids don’t know much about police officers besides the uniform.”

The program is a 12-week class that teaches students major league baseball techniques such as proper throwing and batting. Students also learn teamwork and leadership skills. Healthy habits are also emphasized.

The officers coach the students and participate in games on occasion.

“I like getting to know the kids and trying to have an impact on them,” Phillips said.

The service is free to students. Students from the program are selected to attend a baseball camp based on their behaviors.

“People are chosen to go based on their attitude and positivity,” 13-year-old Nicholas Morton said. He was one of eight Hayward students to attend the 5-day camp in Maryland, the home of Badges for Baseball.

Students are also given baseball supplies provided by sponsors.

“They were given three baseball uniforms, baseball gear and gloves,” Phillips said.

Another Hayward student, Ty Aaron, reflected on the opportunities he had at camp.

“We met people from all over at the camp,” Aaron said.

The students agreed that having the officers with them reassured them and influenced their love of the sport.

“I was glad,” Morton said when asked about the officers participating. “I knew all police had to be good people if they were police officers.”

All Springfield students are eligible to apply. More information about registration will be released at the end of the summer.

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