“A Lifetime Impact:” Cooper Kinney Donates $ 11,000 to Southside Youth Development

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A local organization in Chattanooga will receive thousands of dollars after a current MLB prospect convinces Gatorade to help them give back to their local community. While many great baseball players see their summers focus solely on honing their diamond craft, the former Baylor star and Tampa Bay Rays first-round pick Cooper Kinney have often found the time. to work with children in another area of ​​Chattanooga.

Kinney recently won the $ 10,000 National Grant award on behalf of the Gatorade Player of the Year Play it Forward grant. He also donated an additional $ 1,000, and he donated a total of $ 11,000 to Southside Youth Development.

“He’s seen kids from all walks of life try to play baseball in high school, and he understands that not everyone has the same opportunities,” says his father Mike Kinney.

“Seeing that growing up resonated with him and helping a group that is trying to help young children play the game, it just speaks of his upbringing and what he saw growing up. ”

In order to win the Play it Forward grant, Cooper had to submit a video explaining why Southside Youth Development deserves and will benefit from the grant and donation. Kinney spent time as a high school student getting to know the children of southern Chattanooga, many of whom now attend Howard School.

“I was first introduced to Jonathan Johnson, as a school coach in Crosstown (The Howard School),” Kinney said in his video submission for the award. “And on a field trip to help revitalize the high school grounds, we spent time working to get to know kids from across the community. “

Southside Youth Development is an organization that promotes and extends the impact of youth sports in the southern community. Kinney went on to say, “They are creating opportunities for the kids in this community and giving them the opportunity to play organized baseball.”

Kinney compared Southside Youth Development to the existing MLB “Play Ball”. The organization is looking to host a sand court league, revitalize two different fields, and recruit community volunteers and coaches. Howard’s coach Jonathan Johnson is one of the Southside Youth Development co-coordinators and one of many to find out how to use the donation to move SYD forward.

“SYD is incredibly grateful that Cooper has chosen our not-for-profit organization worthy of the $ 1,000 grant. When I heard that we had won the national prize of $ 10,000, I was amazed, ”said Coach Johnson. “The funds will be used to purchase more baseball equipment and continue to improve the baseball field at Emma Wheeler Homes in downtown Chattanooga.”

“Our coaches and volunteers firmly believe that an adult can make a lifelong impact on a child’s life through mentoring, providing opportunities for education, experiences and exposure and providing what could be a lifetime vision for their life. “

Co-coordinator Drew Barton echoes much of what Johnson is saying. He believes the first year of the SYD summer program has been a success and that this unexpected influx of money will only help the program grow and thrive around Emma Wheeler’s homes.

“It’s going to benefit us in so many different ways. It’s going to help us get some equipment, revitalize these fields and make them something the community can be proud of, ”Barton said. “It will be great for the community to have something like this in their garden. “

“You can see God working in this community through the blessings that are poured out. Great things are happening in the community, and we want to spread the word about the great things that are happening in Emma Wheeler’s homes. “

As 2021 was the first year of the Southside Youth Development program, President Xavier Cotto said it has proven to be an uplifting and unifying force in a community some call an island. He says improvements on the ground may be underway.

“One of the positive things about building a baseball field is that it can bring unity to this community,” Cotto said. “We were there with the kids (this summer), and we had parents and grandparents who started coming to the games. It just provided another opportunity to bring the community together and encourage their children. “

“We definitely give Cooper and his dad huge props because it comes from their hearts and their willingness to help us,” Cotto said. “We’re just trying to help the kids and provide them with facilities and opportunities. “

His dad Mike says young Kinney hit his first professional home run earlier today, but as the price shows, his son is more than a great baseball player.

“He’s done a really good job growing in an area of ​​excellence in sports, studies and faith,” said Mike Kinney. “Cooper is as good a kid as an athlete, and he has a tremendous faith base. He has a passion to help others, and he is just a great young man and we are very proud of him and the opportunities that are presented to him.

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