The Hood River Whitecaps, Hood River’s newest baseball academy, is set to offer kids ages 8-19 a complementary baseball opportunity for those who want to advance their skills.
Andrea Duckwall, community representative and outreach director for the Whitecaps, said the academy aims to organize and bring the baseball community together under one name.
“For many years, Hood River has done some traveling baseball. Each of these groups have done it on their own,” Duckwall said. “For instance, the 12-under team’s parents would try to get a group together and try to go to tournaments.
“These tournaments can cost $400-500 a tournament and you have to get sponsors. This is basically putting everybody in one group. It’s creating a board, making sure that people are all working together. The community can see that we’re all together, we can go to the same tournaments and support each other.”
With many baseball clubs operating in Portland, creating one in Hood River would make it convenient for families in the Gorge and keep travel to a minimum.
“We want to have those kids to have the opportunity to play those other sports,” Duckwall said.
“We don’t want baseball to be their only sport or that they just have to do baseball. We want them to continue to do wrestling and basketball until baseball season.”
There will be a total of nine Whitecaps teams; two 10-under, two 12-under, one 14-under team, two 16-under teams, a 17-under and a 19-under.
There are currently 80 kids registered with more expected to join after deadline, Duckwall said. Non-high school players will begin play before their JBO and Little League season. High school players are expected to play after their high school season is over.
The academy will also bring the Hood River and White Salmon communities together through their high school baseball coaches.
HRV’s baseball head coach Erich Harjo is president of the academy and John Hallead, head baseball coach at White Salmon’s Columbia High School, is the 19-under coach.
Having coaches from both high schools shows the willingness of both communities working together, Duckwall said.