White Sox Amateur City Elite
This summer, Chicago White Sox Charities is sponsoring the White Sox Amateur City Elite, a traveling baseball team comprised entirely of students from Chicago Public League High Schools. The team provides a high level of training and competition for talented baseball players who lack the financial means or family support to otherwise receive such instruction. The idea comes from White Sox National Crosschecking scout, Nathan Durst, who approached the Chicago White Sox Training Academy to help execute the plan.
There has been a downward trend of participation by African-Americans in the sport of baseball, with an overall lack of exposure to college recruiters and professional scouts as one of the contributing factors to the dilemma. The Amateur City Elite program seeks to correct that issue for 20 qualified young players. It is the belief of Chicago White Sox Charities that baseball should represent a viable option by which disadvantaged youths can attain a college education and potentially even a professional career.
The players on the team were selected through an open tryout in February, and their season will begin in June. Kenny Fullman is the head coach of the team, and Matt Sibitroth serves as his assistant. Fullman is a full-time Chicago police officer and head coach at Harlan Academy in Chicago. Sibitroth is a two-time draftee of the White Sox and the facility director at Player's Choice Sports Academy.
The program is not focused on winning games; it is about developing players on and off-the-field as individuals, so that they are better prepared for college. Each player must submit a school transcript before being allowed to participate. Academic guidance will be provided by the staff to make sure the athletes are compliant in core classes per the NCAA regulations. During the academic year, periodic grade check sheets will be given to players to be filled out by their teachers. Those who do not meet the academic standards set forth by the coaching staff could be suspended from practice and games.
"To us, this program is just as much about academics and life lessons to succeed after high school, as it is about baseball," said Justin Stone the head instructor at the White Sox Training Academy.
Not only will the members of the Amateur City Elite team enhance their skills and ability with the guidance of their coaches, but they also will have the opportunity to learn about careers in the front offices of baseball teams. Chicago White Sox Charities has arranged for the Amateur City Elite team to meet with White Sox executives so they can learn more about baseball related jobs.
"Obviously, not everyone can play baseball at the Major League level. We want to show these young players that they can still be part of the sport, even if it is not on the field," said Durst. "The message we are sending is that with an education, you can remain part of the game."