By Mark Clark
The baseball and softball fields at Meadowlane Park were filled with sounds of children playing Saturday as the More Than a Game Foundation held its third free clinic for young athletes. It was an opportunity for the organization to take another step towards its goal – creating a network of mentors for these young athletes.
“We want to create an avenue for kids on the south side of town to get started in the sport. Football and basketball are big in the area. We want baseball to get as popular,” Bryan Woodall said when asked what the purpose was for Saturday’s clinic.
The More Than a Game group drew about 60 kids for the clinic, which pleases the organizers.
“Each time we have held a clinic here at Meadowlane, the number of kids attending has grown. This time we have more kids from the s
outh side community. In other clinics, we have had a lot of travel ball players. This was what we were hoping to see,” Woodall said.
Woodall is currently signed to play baseball in China with the China Trust Brothers team. He played his high school baseball locally at Central High and college baseball at Auburn before being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks for whom he played for several years before signing to play in China. Woodall was joined by other former and current professional baseball players on Saturday for the clinic. Case Rasmus played at Russell County High and in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. Anfernee Grier, Russell County High alum and a former Auburn Tiger, is currently in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Both worked with the young athletes.
What do these young men get out of conducting the clinics?
“We get a chance to give back to our communities. Most of us grew up in the area and played baseball here when we were young. It gives us a chance to do our part to see the sport keeps on growing,” Woodall said.
Woodall and Case Rasmus’ brothers Colby and Cory were members of the Phenix City Little League team that won the United States tit
le in 1999. Both Rasmus brothers made it to the major leagues, but are currently not active players. They are working with CR Baseball.
Also helping with agility drills at the clinic was Central High assistant football coach Brandon Averett.
In addition to the agility drills conducted by Averett, the youngsters went through fielding drills for ground balls and fly balls and in hitting. Once each group of athletes completed each station, they were divided into groups to play games.
“Hopefully, we will continue to get sponsors to help us provide equipment for the kids. If it grows into a league, that will be great. Coach (Tim) Fanning and his kids have done a great job of renovating these fields. Now they can be used for what they were intended. We need the continued support of the city to do even more for these kids. It is great to see the More Than a Game sign and scoreboard. A lot of work has gone into these fields,” Woodall said.