Nordonia Hills Athletic Association builds community through baseball
by Laura Bednar
The Nordonia Hills Athletic Association brought a community focus to its spring baseball and softball clinics. For three weekends in March, the association held clinic sessions for young athletes ages 6-12 to practice their skills with current Nordonia High School athletes and coaches.
NHAA President Jim Filisky said this was the first year the association held the clinics at Nordonia Middle School. Previously, they were held at an off-site location with coaches from outside athletic companies. Filisky said the NHAA board agreed with him that holding the clinics locally and working directly with the Nordonia schools would have a greater impact.
“It’s our vision to work with the school district as a partnership to promote youth sports in the community,” he said, adding that the hope is kids will be interested in playing for their local school district.
Filisky said each weekend had between 70 and 80 young athletes. Participants were split into groups based on age and rotated between four stations for 90 minutes. NHAA board members and coaches manned each station alongside Nordonia coaches and student athletes.
Nordonia girls varsity softball Coach Marissa Rizzo said the stations consisted of hitting off a tee, fielding, throwing and pitching.
Nordonia athletes were assigned to work with different age groups, and Rizzo said there were eight to 10 softball players that came to the clinics each weekend. All Nordonia baseball and softball players who participated earned school volunteer hours for their time.
“The girls enjoyed being with the young ones,” said Rizzo. “They grow as leaders. It’s valuable for them to learn patience with kids and how to be constructive in the way you talk to them.”
Filisky said the clinics benefit young athletes who may not receive any instruction outside of their time playing under the NHAA. He said the association plans to connect younger divisions with the varsity teams by inviting them to warm up with the Nordonia teams on the field before games.
While the NHAA still has roughly 700 participants, including travel teams, Filisky said registration has somewhat declined over the past several years. “We are hopeful that by showing community involvement, we recapture kids looking outside the community for sports,” he said.
The association continues its community investment through ball field improvements at Sagamore Hills Park, the potential location of another NHAA clinic before the “fall ball” season. ∞