Troy Rushmeyer said people can thank COVID-19 for finally bringing Baxter and Brainerd together on something.

Because activities were limited last summer during the pandemic, groups from both Brainerd Youth Baseball and Baxter Youth Baseball came together to create one youth baseball organization called Brainerd Baxter Baseball Association this fall. The non-profit organization is dedicated to giving area youth the opportunities to play travel baseball at a competitive level as well as in-house baseball through pony, bronco and mustang leagues.

“This is super important for player development and for allowing a single philosophy, that really, we all share, to be put into practice,” co-chairman Steve Hanson said. “I think it’s a classic everyone wins scenario. Not just with the involvement of both cities, but the kids and the families. Ultimately our goal is to get players ready for whatever upper-level baseball opportunities that they might have.

“This allows us to all work together and utilize the resources we have in this community and ultimately get these kids ready for high school and possibly collegiate baseball by offering additional opportunities that we’re all included in and a part of. It’s going to be great all-around and we’re all really excited about it.”

Rushmeyer, who is the other co-chairman said this was a long time coming, but politics always found its way into the process. He said that wasn’t the case this time.

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“It’s something that’s been tried for a long time, but all the stars lined up and if anything good came of COVID it was that things slowed down enough to where the folks from Baxter and the folks from our board got together and started talking and said this really makes sense for us to join,” Rushmeyer said. “This gives the kids of this community more opportunities. I’m on the Brainerd Parks Board and it just seemed like the perfect time to push our programs away from Parks and Rec and into community education and in the same time try to make that transition with the baseball associations. A lot of moving parts. It is a no-brainer, it just hadn’t happened for a long time. Everything lined up and now we’re really excited about it.”

Everyone from both cities’ parks and recreation departments, community education, Brainerd School District and even Central Lakes College have come together to make BBBA an organization that will provide many learning and playing opportunities.

“A lot of people wanted this and it was really great to put it into motion and I think we’re all going to benefit from it,” Hanson said. “I think the one other piece of this is the coordination and collaboration of not only the current local youth community, but also the high school and collegiate communities are all working together. There are things that we’re doing together as a much greater baseball community where there will be more involvement at those levels within our programs like teaching and coaching.”

The first skills session for traveling baseball will be held Sunday, March 14, at Forestview Middle School. Times are depending on age, but go from 10:20 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information on those visit braienrdbaxterbaseball.com.

“We sent that information out to our travel families, but we also sent that same information to our community education families,” Hanson said. “Those opportunities are made aware to everybody who has signed up for baseball in the past and we want to make sure everybody that wants to participate and at whatever level can have that opportunity.”

Rushmeyer said the goal of everyone involved is to make the BBBA a “really good, classy program that focuses on kids and where we put all our effort back into them through player enhancement, sportsmanship and just the whole nine yards.”

Hanson wants to see the BBBA provide baseball opportunities year-round. He’s also excited about the summer tournaments titled “Battle at the Lakes” the area will host this coming summer. BBBA will also host a 15-and-under state tournament.

“We have so many great ballparks in town, being able to have practices or games in any number of facilities we have certainly opens up more practices and more games and tournaments,” Hanson said. “A lot of people want to come here. This allows us to give our community to the rest of the state because we’re all working in concert together and we’re going to see some fun things blossom out of that with the cooperation we’re having now.”



JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.