(Varsity Partners are proud partners of Front Office Sports)
Eric Smith and Billy Owens raised their families on baseball. The two close friends regularly coached youth teams in the Charlotte area, and both saw their own children develop into strong players over the years. The two would also take their families on vacation together.
During one trip to Turks and Caicos, the pair befriended a local baseball coach who did not have enough gloves for a full team. When Smith and Owens returned to the United States, they rallied the Charlotte baseball community to donate any gear they could spare. Soon, Smith and Owens sent a seaboard container filled with over 2,500 pounds of gear back to the country. Smith and Owens also personally returned to Turks and Caicos and coached within seven different ministries in the country to make sure that the gear was delivered to children that needed it. Soon the organization collaborated with Varsity Partners to establish branding, positioning, and the now beloved identity – Turn Two for Youth was created.
The two businessmen and their families began delivering similar amounts of gear to more countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Turn Two for Youth became the official charity of the American Baseball Coaches Association – which is comprised of more than 10,000 coaches – in 2016. In the three years since, the organization has sent nearly 55 tons of baseball gear to youth teams and leagues in developing countries, as well as in underserved areas of the United States. Turn Two for Youth recently made a large donation to the Los Angeles Police Department, who used the gear to put on clinics for nearly 3,000 local players.
“Eric Smith and Billy Owens just wanted to give back to a game that taught them so much,” said Turn Two for Youth Executive Director Vince Chelana. “Then there’s a strong belief behind what they’re doing because the game of baseball teaches so much about social interaction and it also puts kids that really desperately need it in the hands of a good mentor by way of a coach.”
Currently, Turn Two for Youth collects gently used baseball gear through a series of drives all over the nation. Individuals can also send in donations by sending in the dimensions and weight of the boxes of gear, and they receive a shipping label from Turn Two for Youth.
The organization collaborated with Varsity Partners on an impact report to demonstrate to Turn Two for Youth’s partners and key stakeholders how the charity is perceived and how they are continuing to affect the baseball world in a positive way. That report can be found here. To this day, Chelana gives much of the credit for the organization’s growth to Varsity Partners and their hand in helping build the brand.
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“You go inside the ABCA and we have our booths there. People see that glove and they know immediately know who we are and it’s grown inside various different youth organizations,” says Chelana. “The logo has almost become synonymous with giving back to the game that you love. I think their brand identity has done more to help us gain the recognition that we have so far than anything else.”
With donations constantly arriving at the organization’s warehouse in Charlotte, Smith, Owens, and Chelana plan to continue growing the game they love all over the globe.
Those interested in donating gently used baseball gear can visit turn2foryouth.com/give. Questions about donating or partnering with Turn Two for Youth can contact Chelana directly at Vince@themanagementoffice.com, or reach out to them on Twitter.