While some nonprofits focus on providing athletic opportunities for youth and others focus on academic opportunities, BASE places an emphasis on both. The Boston-based nonprofit involves youth in a baseball league while providing resources such as tutors to the players. This week, BASE opened a location in Indianapolis, making Indianapolis the fourth city nationwide to offer the program.
“At the end of the day, baseball is just the carrot,” Rob Barber, president of BASE Indianapolis, said. “It’s really to provide them an incentive to keep them engaged to get an education and get the life skills to succeed off the baseball field.”
Even though BASE Indianapolis is still in its infancy, Barber believes it can be transformative for local youth. Right now, the organization is focusing on establishing its first teams and gathering local support.
Barber fell in love with baseball around 12 years old. He went on to play throughout high school and college and then became involved in youth baseball organizations such as Triple Crown Sports. It was at one of these youth baseball games he discovered BASE. Barber noticed how one team approached the game with energy and excitement he rarely saw from youth teams. While it felt like he could barely keep most teams awake during slow games, this team would exclaim about each game while still staying respectful.
After learning it was a BASE team, Barber began looking into the organization, even visiting Boston to see the nonprofit in action. What Barber saw impressed him. Not only were youth receiving baseball training for free, but BASE also provided access to academic mentors and successful figures in business. To top it all off, high school seniors don’t receive trophies as graduation presents from BASE but laptops to help them at college.
Barber believed Indianapolis could benefit from a similar BASE program. He brought the organization’s leadership to Indianapolis, and they decided the city would be a good fit for BASE.
“At BASE we say urban time is American time, so that’s what we are focusing on,” Robert Lewis Jr., founder of BASE, said. “I believe kids in any city in this country are assets and that’s what we continue to do: provide the best resources for their success. Why not Indy?”
BASE Indianapolis formally launched on April 24. Barber plans for BASE Indianapolis’ first free baseball league to be operational this summer and will accept middle schoolers and high schoolers. Currently, he is reaching out to local high school coaches, players and organizations such as Play Ball Indiana for possible collaboration and to get the word out.
In early June, Barber plans for a future BASE Indianapolis team to compete in Urban Classics. In these games, the team will compete against players from Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago, even getting the chance to travel to those cities. The Urban Classics will allow Indianapolis players to see other cities while competing against new groups of athletes.
In the meantime, BASE Indianapolis is reaching out for community support. Barber said that while he appreciates monetary donations, giving money is not the only way Indianapolis residents can help BASE. They can also donate their time. This could come in the form of academic and vocational mentoring for BASE players or even providing a service. For example, Barber said that landscaping companies could help with a field’s design or a fencing company could possibly provide nets. He appreciates anyway someone can lend a hand.
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
For more information or to contact BASE Indianapolis, visit thebaseindy.org.