NHAA gears up for another season with help from the bullpen

by Chris Collins

As the weather warms up, the Nordonia Hills Athletic Association is preparing for baseball season under new leadership. Melinda Malyuk is the new president of NHAA following longtime president Jim Filisky and the brief term of Chad Akins, who resigned a few months after becoming president.

Malyuk, who has lived in the Northfield area all her life, is a longtime NHAA participant. She played softball in the program as a child and later became a coach before joining the NHAA board. As a board member, she was in charge of board communications and IT. Three of her children have also played baseball and softball in the association and one son plays on a travel team for 10-year-olds.

“I kind of like to take charge and get things done,” she said of taking over as president.

She said she is passionate about player development and is working to revamp instructional programs. This season, NHAA will reinstitute its Roberto Clemente league, which helps boys ages 7 and 8 to better transition from coach pitch to kid pitch. The players will do most of the pitching, but a coach will be available to instruct and assist each pitcher if needed.

Malyuk said NHAA will also add “a ton more clinics” and three-week classes for both baseball and softball players to provide more focused experience and evaluation. NHAA is also seeking more help from area high school coaches at the clinics to increase participation.

NHAA has averaged 500-550 kids participating each season in the years following the pandemic. Malyuk wants the group to increase marketing and outreach in the surrounding communities. “I want to make sure every kid knows we exist,” she said.

Another new initiative is the Bullpen, a program that aims to get more parents and community volunteers involved in NHAA. She said some board members give a lot of time to the association, and this an effort to garner more help from the community.

“We have a lot of parents with a skill set that can help,” she said.

She hopes the Bullpen will attract upwards of 70 parents and community members to help with concession stands, field maintenance, fundraising, clinics and special events.

Last year, NHAA took sole control of concession stands, so more help is needed this season and beyond. Bullpen volunteers can also help with other community projects. For example, last year NHAA members fundraised and worked on replacing the infield dirt at Nordonia Middle School with a special mix more suitable for baseball.

Malyuk said the new volunteer program, “has made some awesome changes and this is a trial year to see where it takes us.”

More information and an online application form are available at nhaa.info/bullpen. ∞

Photo: One of NHAA’s goals is to get more high school coach involvement at baseball clinics like the one seen above. Photo by Melinda Malyuk.