Astros players, coaches visit youth baseball camp
Fowler, Springer, Brock and Porter speak to UYA about fundamentals, life lessons
HOUSTON -- The Astros' organization continued to show its support for the Houston community Friday morning, as members of the roster and coaching staff visited a youth baseball camp hosted by the Astros Urban Youth Academy (UYA).
Houston outfielders Dexter Fowler and George Springer, along with manager Bo Porter and first-base coach Tarrik Brock, spoke to a group of over 50 kids. The team representatives provided the kids with some advice about baseball and the life lessons baseball brings.
"Today speaks to our organization's commitment to community relations," Porter said. "I commend our players for coming out this morning and lending their time to help instruct these kids and teach them the game we all love of baseball."
The baseball camp is hosted at the Astros Urban Youth Academy at a pristine facility in northwest Houston. The UYA is run by the Astros Foundation, with the purpose to provide free baseball and softball instruction, life skills training and academic support to Houston youth, with a focus on serving inner-city and at-risk children and teens.
"This facility is about the kids knowing that they have a place where they can go," Springer said. "It's great that they have a spot where they can come and just play baseball. I wish I had something like this as a kid."
Friday ended the first week of a five-week baseball and softball camp program put on by the UYA. All camps are free and are designed to teach the young players the fundamentals of baseball. Fowler remembered participating in youth baseball camps as a young kid growing up in the Atlanta area.
"Growing up in East Cobb in Atlanta, there was a huge baseball following, and we had guys like [former Braves pitcher] John Smoltz come out and help us with camps just like this, and I know it definitely helped us," Fowler said. "Going to the field every day, you realize that they're kids that look up to you, so getting the chance to interact with those kids today out here is awesome."
The Astros were the first Major League club to open an Urban Youth Academy, and this is the fifth year they have held summer camps for kids ages 7 to 17. For the kids, getting to come to camp every summer has become something they look forward to.
"Last year, [second baseman] Jose Altuve and [former Astros reliever] Wesley Wright came out here, and now with George Springer and Dexter Fowler coming out here, it is really awesome and it's something I will always remember," UYA member Hunter Waldon said. "These camps have given me training to do better things in life, and maybe one day make it to the big leagues."
Porter spoke to the kids about the importance of listening to others so that you won't miss opportunities in life. It was a point that was received by Waldon.
"If you listen, you will always be successful," Waldon said.
With four more weeks of free baseball and softball camps, the Astros will make another appearance later in the month.
Ryan Cantrell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.