No baseball? No problem, for kids, that is.
The Junior Giants, which normally hold in-person camps during the summer, are approaching the 2020 “season” differently this year.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic made playing sports as a group an action that could have possible safety consequences, the Junior Giants are holding Junior Giants At Home, a way for local children to learn about baseball, practice and have fun for free and all from the comfort of their backyard.
The spring season of Junior Giants wrapped up June 6, and there are two summer seasons for kids to explore, both for free.
Sessions are led by Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassadors, feature live sessions geared toward specific age groups twice a week, and showcase skills and baseball drills through videos made for the Junior Giants by the San Francisco Giants’ coaching staff and include topics such as physical activity, nutrition, reading, character development and bullying prevention.
Anne Hughes, a Lodi Junior Giants’ ambassador for the last three years, said that as of June 1, the Lodi Jr. Giants had 70 online participants. While it’s far less than the typical 400-500 participants for a normal Jr. Giants in-person session, the program has been a productive offering for kids who are sheltering-in-place.
“I think, having it online here, you do have the benefit of having it one-on-one here,” Hughes said on June 1.
The first summer session started June 8, while the second summer session starts July 6.
“We don’t just focus on baseball and other aspects, such as striking out bullying. We really hope to serve our community, not just through baseball but by making sure everyone has resources,” Hughes said.
Registration is accepted on a rolling basis and all youth are welcome to sign up, whether they are new to the program or not. Families can sign up for the free program at www.jrgiantsathome.org/lodi/register.
The program is for ages 5-18 consists of two online “practices” per week, and kids can participate in as many seasons as they wish.
Hughes, who is from Galt and started as a volunteer, said that Lodi has been involved in the program for five years.
The program also includes an email newsletter with helpful resources for kids and their parents called the Junior Giants Daily Lineup, which features information on education, health, mindfulness and local resources, as well as focusing on fun activities.
“I just want to reiterate that this program goes beyond baseball. It helps build friendships and to know they’re not alone,” Hughes said when asked what kids should know about the program.