The Doctors Are ‘In’

06/17/2009 – Daily News Record

Turks’ Baseball Clinic More Than Just Sports Written By Tom Mitchell Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – Tuesday morning, 50 youngsters at Lucy F. Simms Education Center tested Garrett Parker’s stamina. The children, members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, spent 90 minutes catching, throwing and hitting baseballs in a clinic put on by Parker and the rest of the Harrisonburg Turks of the Valley Baseball League. The camp was part of a daylong program capped by Boys & Girls Club Recognition Night at James Madison University’s Long Field, which included free admission for club members to the Turks’ game with the Luray Wranglers. The clinic, now in its third year, represents a summertime partnership between the Turks, a squad of college players from all over the U.S., and the local Boys & Girls. Parker, 22, a Turks player from Duncanville, Texas, and a right-handed pitcher for Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, Okla., has helped with each clinic. "It’s something I’ve enjoyed," he said. "You build a rapport with these kids. And even if you spark their interest for a minute, you’ve accomplished something." Game Of Life Boys & Girls club officials hope that with the help of the Turks, children will learn more than baseball. "We want these kids to interact with a positive role models," said Wendi Ankrom, Simms’ Unit director for the local Boys & Girls Clubs. "We want them to stay away from gangs and drugs. So we want to bring in people who have had positive things happen to them, like these players." Teresa Wease, the Turks’ operations manager, said the clinic is the Valley Baseball League team’s way of connecting with the community. The team also sponsors "Reading with the Turks," an event at Massanutten Regional Library where players read to area children. "Events like this give our players an opportunity to give back to the community," Wease said. Boys & Girls members Juleian Cappell and twin brothers Justin and Jason Strothers, all 10-year-olds from Harrisonburg, agree they learned something from the clinic. Juleian found Turks players "pretty cool, because they help us." Justin said Turks players gave him and his friends good advice: "They were teaching us to keep our lives straight, and to stay out of trouble." Justin’s brother simply focused on the fun he had on the field. For Jason that meant "getting to hit the ball." Contact Tom Mitchell at 574-6275 or