DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A baseball team that serves numerous underprivileged students in Dearborn Heights is thanking 7 Action News viewers and readers like you.
A few months ago 7 Action News told you how an arsonist destroyed their batting cage. It was the second time someone had burned the netting of the outdoor cage, rendering it useless according to Elvis Johnson, Head Coach of the Varsity Baseball team at Dearborn Heights Robichaud High School and the Founder of The Westwood Hoyas Baseball Club.
Johnson tells 7 Action News it was devastating.
“Our team is not like any other team,” he explained.
Coach Johnson shared how the arsonist didn’t just destroy a net. It was a tool to help underprivileged kids succeed academically and play on his travel team funded by donations.
The Westwood Hoyas Baseball club features traveling teams funded by donations. It also gives opportunities to players of all skill levels, something most travel teams do not do.
“You might have a kid that can’t hit. I might have a kid that gets hit. We have kids that might not eat today. We have kids that might not have a home today”
“I saw the story on your newscast,” said Derek Fowler of the Moose Hockey Club.
Moose Hockey Club members wanted to help.
“We’re given two hands. One to help yourself and one to help others. I saw these kids and they really needed help,” said Fowler.
“One of these kids could actually become a professional baseball player,” said David Lokatos, a member of the Moose Hockey Club.
The Moose Hockey Club, like the Westwood Hoyas Baseball Club, is not like other sports clubs. The Moose Hockey Club was founded after September 11, in honor of two of Fowler’s friends who lost their lives in the terror attack. Members play hockey and help others.
Donations from the Moose Hockey Club and numerous other community members who heard what happened have now helped The Westwood Hoyas replace the batting cage with an indoor one.
“I would like to thank Channel 7,” said Coach Johnson.
The help from viewers who stepped up to help is not just buying a net, it is helping dreams come true for an increasing number of players.
“I think we have accumulated more wins this season than we have in decades actually,” said Johnson.
“I want to say thank you so much and we are blessed to have such an opportunity for us,” said Erica Zarate, a Westwood Hoyas Player, to all who donated.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who donated. It means a lot to me that you all want to see us succeed and play,” said Jaylen Story, who is also a Westwood Hoyas Player.
The club has grown. It now has a girl’s softball team.
Coach Johnson says he is working to recruit volunteers to help club members with academics and to continue the work. He says players are seeing success off the field and on.
Coach Johnson says if you would like to help the club continue to do its work to help kids through sports you can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/TheCoachJohnsonFoundation.