Sportsmanship, teamwork and hustle. These are the core values of a new competitive youth league baseball team in Marietta.
The Marietta Sluggers are the name of the team founded in 2008 by Marietta resident Steve Hill.
"Our goal is to transform these kids into responsible citizens," said Hill. "The sportsmanship is simply respecting your opponent, the teamwork is realizing it's not just about you, it's about everyone, and the hustle is the hard work you put into it."
The Sluggers are a non-profit organization fielding teams in both the 9-10 and the 11-12 age groups.
The hopes of the Slugger organization is that they can teach their teams, through the game of baseball, lessons that they can use not only in sports, but in life itself.
Last year the Sluggers hosted the first annual "Heroes Classic".
The Heroes Classic was a game played at Marietta College that was designed to promote patriotism and raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The young members of the Sluggers went out into the community to invite military veterans to the game.
During the fifth inning of the game, the players paused to show thanks to the veterans in attendance by giving them handshakes and gifts as a token of their appreciation for their service to their country and our freedom.
This year's Heroes Classic will be played on June 11 with the proceeds going to the USO.
Marietta VFW Post 5108 has been gracious enough to the grant the Sluggers a field to play their home games on.
Patriot Park will be the name of the field that sits directly behind the VFW in Marietta.
"They (VFW) have been kind enough to grant us an indefinite lease, as long as we maintain the field," said Hill. "We have already done a lot of work here and are looking to invest about 30,000 dollars into the field itself."
Hill and the other volunteers have been busy installing among other things, a new backstop, dugouts and fencing..
A concession stand will be added soon to Patriot Park as well as other long term features that can be shared by the community as well as the team.
The new, renovated ballpark will host teams from Belpre, Little Hocking, Vienna, Parkersburg, Williamstown and St. Marys, as well as hosting the Cincinnati Reds Legends baseball camp in June.
"We are trying to make this field nice so that when people come into our community we will have a field to be proud of." said Hill.
Hill stressed that the Sluggers are not in competition with the local Marietta Bantam League, pointing to studies that show the more community-based programs available for the youth, the more likely they are to stay involved and remain active in those programs.
Hill, himself a veteran, has also created a program called the "UPS Club" to promote physical fitness.
The program rewards the kids for completeing any combination of 1,000 push-ups or sit-ups per week .
"Youth that are involved in structured, challenging programs are less likely to get into criminal activity later on," said Hill, "we're just trying to provide a healthy alternative for these kids."
The Sluggers season is now underway as well as a fund drive to raise the funds needed to complete the park renovation.
Prospective sponsors can contact Hill at 376-0574 or visit the Sluggers website at leaguelineup.com/mariettasluggers.