WBA Ready to Impact Athletes and Economy
Published on August 25, 2009 - 8:32 pm
by Business Weekly
The World Baseball Academy (WBA) is laying down the groundwork to become an international destination for baseball federations from around the world.
On September 1, The WBA will officially establish their headquarters here in Fort Wayne at the Academy of Sports & Health (ASH) Centre located on the corner of Freeman and Taylor St. The mission of the nonprofit organization is to use baseball as a platform to develop the life skills of athletes, while breaking down cross cultural barriers and increasing the interest of the game globally. The WBA leadership is comprised of some of international baseball‟s top leadership, including Dr. Darin Van Tassell, who recently served as the Competition Director overseeing the 2008 Olympic Baseball Games in Beijing, China.
"Due to what we‟re calling a „perfect storm‟ of dynamic relationships coming together at the right time, this organization has a rare and special opportunity to really impact Fort Wayne socially and economically," explains Van Tassell.
The key to economic impact lies in the expansion of the amateur baseball tournaments that have been taking place for well over a decade.
"The international teams competing in these tournaments will quickly increase the quality and volume of teams coming to Fort Wayne resulting in millions of dollars in economic impact through the sports tourism industry," mentions Caleb Kimmel, Executive Director.
The ASH Centre, University of St. Francis, and the WBA have partnered together to focus on constructing a first-class collegiate size ball field at The ASH Centre to house the international
RBI Director Matt Harmon programs as well as serve USF future baseball needs. The ASH Centre has been targeted as the future home for this baseball operation and renovations are well underway.
"The new stadium downtown is a tremendous asset for the community and certainly the showcase venue that these tournaments want to utilize for our Championship Rounds. However, the Fort Wayne community still lacks a centralized hub for these types of multi day and multi week operations. This is why the ASH Centre becomes such a pivotal piece in globally positioning Fort Wayne within the billion dollar industry of amateur baseball," explains Kimmel.
"If we get the ASH Centre where it needs to be and combine that with the outstanding stadium downtown, then we have a platform that Fort Wayne can be very proud to show off to the rest of the international baseball world," explains Steve Sotir, WBA Board Member.
"We have some significant plans in the works. We‟re holding at bay some of the top international federations wanting to come to Fort Wayne until we have the facility in place. Meanwhile, we‟re diligently working on using our resources to impact the kids in our backyard," explains Kimmel.
The World Baseball Academy is hiring Matt Harmon, current Southside High School Baseball Coach, to become the full time director of a new program, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), slated to begin in spring of 2010. This local outreach program targets "at-risk" youth and uses baseball as a mentoring program to encourage the life skills development of these young people.
And the outreach doesn‟t stop with Northeast Indiana. Kimmel recently visited Cambodia in November '08 and El Salvador this past April to spend time working with the countries‟ national baseball federations and international leaders. And of course Van Tassell remains well immersed with Olympic Baseball deliberations, having recently served as Technical Commissioner of the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles this spring.
"It‟s simple. We want to use the game to positively affect lives in Fort Wayne and around the world. It‟s exciting to be a part of it and we‟re looking forward to using the game as our tool to make a difference," mentions Harmon.
For more information about the World Baseball Academy visit www.worldbaseballacademy.com or contact Caleb Kimmel at (260) 437-9349 or email@example.com.