Mr. Wil Bernacet, a coach for the Schenectady, New York Babe Ruth League was kind enough to share an essay he wrote about "What Community Baseball Means to Me."
"I graduated high school in 1996 and never played beyond that level. I was raised in New York City and urban Albany and never experienced organized youth baseball as it exists today. I sometimes wonder if I'm a part of the last generation of kids to play true 'sandlot' baseball.
I have been a youth baseball coach since my oldest son Jordan was in tee ball in 2002. After moving to Schenectady in early 2009, I quickly became involved in Schenectady Little League and coached my oldest three children there. I joined the Board of Directors of the Schenectady Babe Ruth League in 2010 because the league was suffering from dwindling volunteer and community support. There was no clear path that was visible for community baseball beyond Little League.
I became frustrated hearing about the mass exodus of parents and players to elite travel teams in the area that touted big dreams, indoor facilities and prices.
I am a stay at home dad (5 kids now) and have devoted most of my free time over the last five years to growing the Schenectady Babe Ruth League. Due to a high poverty rate, Schenectady suffers from a poor reputation in many aspects, and I am determined to change that for our young baseball players.
I have coached in the Babe Ruth League at various levels since 2010 and have been an assistant coach at Schenectady High School since 2012.
I've managed our 18U Cyclones team since 2013, and have been on the coaching staff of the Capital District Chiefs since 2014. In addition, I serve as Vice President of the Eastern New York Connie Mack and Mickey Mantle League.
All of these leagues are actively promoting and growing community baseball in Eastern New York."
Wil wants his community to understand that while every kid that plays baseball isn't going to get all-state selections and athletic scholarships, they can all have a positive experience and impact in the game. Wil's family overcame a personal tragedy. The Babe Ruth Baseball field has become special to his family. The man who taught Wil about the game of baseball and who provided him with an unique blueprint to run the Schenectady Babe Ruth League, feels the same way. He and Wil want every kid in their community to be able to play the game regardless of ability or socioeconomic background. They both feel that organized baseball offers too many benefits for today's youth that all communities should do everything possible to make sure all youth are able to participate.