Results tagged ‘ Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy ’

The Academy Is…

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by Noah Frank

After years of conceptualizing and planning, the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy recently opened its doors for academic programming. While construction on the building and fields at the Academy’s permanent home isn’t slated to finish until the end of November, enrollment has already skyrocketed from 21 students on the first day to more than 50 today.

In partnership with Higher Achievement, the Academy currently offers after-school programming from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., three days a week. As enrollment grows, so does the need for mentors. The Academy will cap its first-year student enrollment at around 90, with a goal of 60 mentors, each volunteering one day a week. The Academy is currently housed at nearby Kimball Elementary School, but will move into its permanent home in January of 2014 upon completion of construction.

New Nationals Manager Matt Williams (center) tours the Academy site with Principal Owner and chairperson of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Marla Lerner Tanenbaum (left) and Executive Director of the Youth Baseball Academy Tal Alter (right).

New Nationals Manager Matt Williams (center) tours the Youth Baseball Academy site.

“What once was a plan on paper is now a reality,” said Tal Alter, the Academy’s executive director. “We’ve worked so hard to get here and we’re excited to welcome our first scholar-athletes into the program, which will offer local youth with a place they can flourish through unparalleled academic and athletic support.”

The facility itself will include three lighted baseball and softball fields, an 18,000 square foot, two-story LEED certified “educational clubhouse” with eight classrooms, a community room, teaching kitchen, additional flex space, offices and indoor training facilities with batting cages.

With plans to enroll a new class of third graders every year, the program is expected to grow to nearly 1,000 student-athletes by September, 2019. Additional programming for grades K-2 is also slated to begin in the first five years, expanding the Academy’s reach to a full range of K-12 scholar-athletes.

Situated in Ward 7’s Fort Dupont Park, the Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to use the sports of baseball and softball as a vehicle to foster positive character development, academic achievement and improved health among at-risk Washington, D.C. youth. A public-private collaboration, the initiative has been made possible thanks to donations from the Lerner Family, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, Major League Baseball and the District of Columbia, along with other corporate and individual community and philanthropic leaders.

You can watch the progress of construction on the facility live, with our on-site camera.


If you would like to apply to be a mentor, please contact Chris Reed at for more information.

Thank You From The Lerner Family

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Dear Nationals Fans:

Thank you for making our home yours, for bringing NATITUDE to Nationals Park day in and day out, for making this our third straight year of increased attendance, and for establishing the Nation’s Capital as one of the greatest baseball cities in America.

On the field, we saw many first-rate performances this year and expect to spend the offseason getting even better. We are very excited about our new manager Matt Williams. Not only does he bring an impressive wealth of knowledge and on-field experience to the Nationals dugout, but we think he is the right leader for a team that’s ready to compete for a World Series championship. Matt will partner with President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo in the offseason to make sure our squad is ready for the 2014 campaign. While Mike and his scouts may fine-tune the roster in the next few months, we believe we are already very close to competing for a World Series title as we stand today.

In 2013, the Nationals young pitching staff tossed more innings, produced one of the National League’s winningest pitchers in Jordan Zimmermann, and continued to demonstrate that with starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Zimmermann, our pitching corps represents one of the most formidable in the game. Veteran Jayson Werth returned midseason from a hamstring injury to become one of the most dominant hitters in baseball. Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche continued to show leadership, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Denard Span had an amazing 29-game hitting streak and an error-free year in the field. And young players like Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon made significant statements, in the field and at the plate, that they can be mainstays in the Major Leagues for years to come.

And Nats fans were there to see it all. Our April opener drew the largest regular season crowd in Nationals Park history, while our average attendance improved from even last season’s playoff year, and our broadcast and radio ratings were the highest yet. We are truly seeing our hometown become an ardent baseball city.

In the community, the team and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation were proud to help open the doors for the long-awaited Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center, and we anticipate hosting our first student athletes on the fields at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy next Spring. We expect both of these initiatives to have a significant and positive impact on our community for generations to come.

The entire Nationals family is inspired by the intense passion for Major League Baseball and the team that’s growing in the capital area. We believe NATITUDE has made our town an even better community. We look forward to an exciting offseason, and plan to introduce everyone to Matt Williams and show off our talented roster at NatsFest in January. Spring Training won’t be far behind.

Thank you for your support – we believe Opening Day 2014 will be the grandest ever. You won’t want to miss it.


Theodore N. Lerner Mark D. Lerner Edward L. Cohen Robert K. Tanenbaum
Annette M. Lerner Judy Lenkin Lerner Debra Lerner Cohen Marla Lerner Tanenbaum

The Dream at 50

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Sports bring people together in a way nothing else can, as evidenced by one of baseball’s proudest moments when Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1947, breaking the color barrier.

However, many people may not realize that this momentous occasion occurred seven years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and 16 years before Martin Luther King Jr.’s Great March on Washington, which took place on August 28, 1963.

Fifty years ago today, King delivered his most seminal speech, proclaiming his dream; a message that resonated through the National Mall to the quarter million people in attendance. And while the process of realizing that dream endures, great strides have been made in the last half century. This is especially true in sports, where players of all races and ethnicities stand as teammates and competitors, side-by-side.

Sports can often serve as a catalyst for social change, and baseball is proud to have such a great leader as Robinson as a role model for equality in our game. In his spirit the Washington Nationals are dedicated to continuing to make a positive social impact here in D.C. As part of this commitment, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation invests money and resources to our local community, and will open the doors to the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7 this fall.

Major League Baseball also carries on the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement through programs such as Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. Likewise, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s mandate to encourage minority hiring for the top positions in the game was the first of its kind in professional sports in 1999, predating the NFL’s Rooney Rule by several years.

So as we pay tribute today to Dr. King and his dream of equality, let us also celebrate the role baseball has played toward equal civil rights in America.

Showing Heart and Hustle

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Ian Desmond has already been named an All-Star and has won a Silver Slugger Award in his career. With a few more plays like the barehanded one he made on Mike Minor’s slow roller last night, he may add a Gold Glove to that register at some point. But tonight, he can take great pride in earning the Heart & Hustle Award, an accolade seemingly created for a player like Desmond, who is growing into a leader both on the field and in the community.

Desmond (third from left) at the groundbreaking of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

Desmond (third from left) at the groundbreaking of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

The Annual Heart & Hustle Award recognizes one player on each Major League team who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game. Of the 30 winners from each Major League team, one player will be chosen as the final Heart and Hustle Award recipient, as voted on by the more than 6,000 members of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. This winner will be announced at the Legends for Youth Dinner, held in New York City on November 19, 2013.

“We can’t control results, but we can control what we do off the field,” said Desmond in regards to his work in the community, particularly with the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. “We’re called to do more than just get hits and play defense.”

Former Washington Senator and current Chairman of the Board of the MLBPAA, Jim Hannan will present Desmond with his award on the field prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. Atlanta. Desmond has been the Nationals nominee twice in the past, in both 2010 and 2011. Teammate Kurt Suzuki was also the Oakland Athletics nominee in both of the same years.

For more information on this award, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and how you too can become a member, please visit

Living the Dream

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The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, set to open in the fall of 2013, will focus on creating an enduring environment for high-quality, after-school and summer programs that integrate baseball, academics and the value of teamwork in a safe environment for youth living in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

Ian Desmond has been supportive of this project every step of the way, becoming a YBA board member and helping the dream of the Academy become a reality.

“We have an opportunity as the Washington Nationals organization to influence young peoples’ lives,” Desmond said. “That’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to make the next generation better than the generation we’re living in now.”

The article Living the Dream from Issue 3 of Nationals Magazine – on sale August 5 – details Desmond’s involvement and gives fans an inside perspective into the life and background of the Nationals shortstop.

For more information on the Youth Baseball Academy or to pledge your support, visit


Krol, Rendon Host PLAY Clinic

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On Tuesday, Nationals trainers and players hosted the PLAY Clinic, in partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and MLB Charities. PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, is a public awareness campaign founded in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage daily activity among youth.

Rendon pitches during the Home Run Derby.

Rendon pitches during the Home Run Derby.

“Childhood obesity was rising in the early 2000s and they were directly tying Type II diabetes to inactivity with kids,” said PLAY campaign coordinator Zachary Reed, who hopes this clinic will encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. “From the year 2000 to the year 2004, it had spiked. About 25% of kids were obese, so the campaign was founded to get kids out for some more activity.”

More than 60 children from Kyle’s Kamp and Ward 7 in Washington, D.C., were on hand at Nationals Park to learn about various topics including healthy eating, injury prevention and strength and conditioning, while also improving their baseball skills.

Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation kicked off the clinic with a chalk talk about the dangers of steroid abuse. Head trainer Lee Kuntz then demonstrated proper stretching techniques in the Nationals bullpen to warm up the kids for the day’s activities. Second baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Ian Krol also stopped by to share their daily routines with the children, from agility drills to the importance of staying hydrated.

“It’s great that the kids are able to meet the players and see a little bit of what we do throughout the day. We hope to instill those [lessons] and get kids back into baseball,” said Kuntz.

Children were also taught how to stay properly hydrated in the heat.

Children were also taught how to stay properly hydrated in the heat.

“They realized how important it is to get outside and be active,” said Krol. “In this day and age, you see all the kids with electronics like iPads and they don’t get to experience great things like sports and other activities.”

One of those fun activities was their own Home Run Derby, the “grand finale and the fireworks” of the PLAY clinic, as Kuntz described it. For many kids, including the Kelley brothers – Jaden, 8, and Cristopher, 9 – the derby was their favorite part of the day.

It is now their charge to incorporate the invaluable lessons they learned in their everyday lives. “Stay healthy, drink water and eat vegetables,” was Jaden’s key takeaway from speaking with Rendon and Krol.

With the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy expected to open later this fall for youth in Wards 7 and 8, many of these PLAY clinic participants will have the opportunity to continue to learn and practice the fundamentals of baseball and softball while also taking part in health and educational programs.


The Desi And D-Rob Alliance

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Washington and New York have a lot in common.

Where D.C. is the center of governmental power, New York is the hub of the financial world. The District, The Big Apple. Defending champions of the National League East, defending champions of the American League East.

So it’s only fitting for us to partner together for a common cause – to get our deserving candidates to the 2013 All-Star Game, which will, of course, be played in New York. Pooling our collective energy, we hope to land both Ian Desmond and David Robertson into the Midsummer Classic.

DesiDRob3We’ve already detailed for you the many reasons why Desmond should once again be an All-Star. Just as Desmond’s accomplishments have been at times overshadowed by his fellow teammates on the left side of the defense – Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman – so have Robertson’s. After all, it’s hard to be a relief pitcher in pinstripes not named Mariano Rivera.

But Robertson is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 39 appearances this season. In 36.1 innings, he has allowed just 23 hits and three home runs while walking 12 and striking out 46.

And for everything these two do on the field, they are both some of the most active off the field in helping their communities as well. Though Desmond doesn’t advertise his charity work, he does, in fact, sit on the board of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, and is one of the strongest forces behind turning the dream of the Academy into a reality. The Academy is set to open its doors for academic programming in the fall, with full baseball clinics beginning next spring.

But what’s the meaning behind Robertson’s #HighSocksForVotes? Well, High Socks For Hope, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation, was founded by Robertson and his wife Erin after tornadoes ravaged David’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2011. High Socks For Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and to provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.

Of course, D.C. and New York have their differences, too, but those only make them stronger when united. The Nationals fan base is the youngest and one of the fastest-growing in baseball. The Yankees fan base is arguably the largest in the game, with the sport’s longest legacy of winning. Hopefully, by joining forces, we can get two great players – and great men – into the Midsummer Classic.

Vote #DesiIn13 at And while you’re at it, make sure to mark your ballot #HighSocksForVotes too. You can also text N1 and A3 to 89269 to vote for Desmond and Robertson, respectively. Unlimited voting ends July 11 at 4PM ET.

Painting The Town Red

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The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation held its annual Dream Gala this past Saturday evening at Sidney Harman Hall, across the street from the Verizon Center in downtown Washington. The black tie optional affair celebrated the recent ribbon cutting of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center, and looked forward to the opening of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy later this fall. The event included 550 attendees and netted more than $200,000 for the Foundation’s efforts. The Nationals and the Dream Foundation would like to thank all of those who contributed and those who worked hard to help this event come together.

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Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Breaks Ground on Youth Baseball Academy

Tuesday’s sweltering heat didn’t stop the Washington Nationals from celebrating the official groundbreaking for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Fort DuPont Park. Expected to be completed in the Summer of 2012, the Youth Baseball Academy will be comprised of three baseball fields, and a state-of-the-art athletic and educational facility with classrooms, community rooms, a teaching kitchen and indoor training facilities.

Emceed by MASN play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter, the groundbreaking ceremony featured a variety of dignitaries, including Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Chair Marla Lerner Tanenbaum; DC Mayor Vincent Gray; Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton; DC Council Chair Kwame Brown; Mickey Fearn from the National Park Service; DC Councilmember Yvette Alexander; William H. Hall and Greg O’Dell from the Washington Convention and Sports Authority and Kimball Elementary School Principal Sheil’a West-Miller.

Nationals Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo and shortstop Ian Desmond were also among those who spoke about their enthusiasm to provide children with the life skills necessary to become better students, better athletes and better citizens. Other players in attendance to lend their support to the historic event included Danny Espinosa, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam LaRoche, and Drew Storen who took time out to play catch with children from Kimball Elementary School and Sousa Middle School, the two schools that border the Academy.

With a strong sense of excitement and anticipation for the Academy and its future benefits to the children of Ward 7, dignitaries joined members of the Lerner family and the Nationals to break ground, officially commemorating the beginning of construction of the Youth Baseball Academy.

The ceremony was a culmination of more than five years of planning, fundraising and collaboration between the Nationals and their political, civic and community partners. Modeled on the successful Harlem RBI program, the Academy will provide the children of Ward 7 the guidance, resources and support necessary to become resilient adults.

The Nationals look forward to the bright future that lies ahead.


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