Spotlight on Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club

Feb 04, 2014

We travel to Kosciusko, MS, for this month’s club spotlight at the Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club. The club has been running Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation programs for over six years now. Iretis Mallett, Program Director, and Chris Kern, Social Recreation Director, took some time to highlight the program at their club.

Iretis Mallet on programming:

“We have been running Cal Ripken Badges for Baseball for years at the Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club, and it's one of our more productive programs. Our kids love it at all ages. It has become popular because we very seldom play it the same way each time. We add variables or make little changes to the rules to keep it challenging and competitive.”

Chris Kern on Quickball success:

“We use a fast pace when we run Quickball, and it keeps the members engaged and having fun. They really enjoy when the staff join. If I’m pitching, I give bonus points for kids being able to hit me with line drives. That provides extra incentive and motivation. One of best qualities of Quickball is the fact that it is gender friendly. In fact, I have noticed baseball/softball becoming very popular with our girls in the club. The number of girls signing up to play in city leagues as grown tremendously. When I go to the games, many of our club members are becoming the standouts on their respective teams. They are learning some of the basics here at the club through Cal Ripken and it makes them easier to coach. I strongly feel that anything that gets girls to be active is important.”

It is great to hear that Chris is running different variations of Quickball. This keeps the games fresh and exciting for the kids. Make sure to check out the Materials page with all the different versions of Quickball.

Highlights from their trips to Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation overnight camps:

 “Of course, getting the opportunity to go to camp in Maryland is a BIG bonus for some of the kids. For many, if not most, it is their first time on a plane. I especially enjoy that opportunity for our kids to experience things outside of Kosciusko and/ or Mississippi. The kids, who get the chance to go to camp, come back a lot better than they left. They also come back being a lot more open to leadership. The chance to interact with kids from all over the nation also helps them to be more outgoing and less timid.

 The biggest success story deals directly with camp. A few years back, I had the chance to escort a group of young men to Maryland. One of the boys was by far the quietest and most shy members of our club. He very rarely spoke a word and/or participated in anything athletic. After spending time with Cal Ripken Staff and other campers, he became a camp favorite. He couldn't catch or hit at all upon arrival. Before long, he was contributing quite well to his team. He started talking and even cracking jokes from time to time. He was voted MVP of camp by his team. I saw the biggest smile ever from this kid! To this day, he smiles when Cal Ripken Camp is mentioned.”

Thank you Iretis and Chris for all you do at the Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club.