DEAR HEIGHT, Mich. (WXYZ) – In the baseball game you can strike out, but you get back on the bat and keep playing. A team that serves many underprivileged students in Dearborn Heights has learned that lesson on and off the field.
Now they need your help after an arsonist destroyed their equipment.
The head coach of the Varsity Baseball team at Dearborn Heights Robichaud High School and the founder of The Westwood Hoyas Baseball Club filed a police report after discovering the net that was used for a broken cage. Coach Elvis Johnson says it was discovered burned on October 8.
It’s a battle for players who have been through so much.
The first proverbial strike against the team came in March when Coach Johnson took COVID-19. The whole team felt the weight of worry when he fell into a coma for ten days. The doctors said he only had a 20% chance of surviving.
“The only things I thought about were my family, my grandson, and getting back on track,” Johnson said.
Then the team met again a new strike. A player who was loved by the team faced homelessness.
The team gathered. Coach Elvis Johnson’s family welcomed him.
“I have really approached the coach. He is like a father figure on and off the field. And I’m happy to have him in my life, “said Tyrique Jones, a sophomore on the team.
“Our team is not like any other team,” said Coach Johnson, when discussing the typical travel baseball team.
Westwood Hoya’s Baseball Club gives Robichaud High School players a chance to join a baseball team this summer. It is financed through donations.
While most travel teams are expensive and recruit only experienced players, Westwood Hoya recruits students to guide them, regardless of experience.
“You can have a child who can not beat. I can have a child who gets hit. We have children who may not eat today. We have children who may not have a home today, ”said Coach Johnson.
The third strike came on October 8, when someone burned the net the team used to build a batting cage.
“The whole team was looking forward to getting a new batting cage,” Jones said.
Coach Johnson, who dedicated his career to fighting fires as a lieutenant in the Detroit Fire Department, is now fighting to overcome the consequences of this arson.
Net cost thousands to replace. This is the second time the team’s blow burn net has been ravaged. To prevent this from happening again, he asks for help to raise money to buy a transportable network that can be stored in a safe place.
Replacing it is not about baseball. It’s about influencing life. Players study together to keep their grades high enough to play and help each other overcome obstacles.
“I feel this team is unique because most of the coaching staff will talk to you outside of just baseball,” said Berton Edgerton, a novice player.
“We had a lot of tough times, but we’re learning how to get over it,” said team captain Christopher Riggs.
“It is heartwarming to know that you have someone who will be there for you and take you in. If you need something, you can go to that person, ”Jones said.
If you want to help, the team collects donations at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-westwood-hoyas-build-a-batting-cage.