Rally Cap program lands in Cleveland

May 12, 2017


OTTAWA- Established in 2006 by Baseball Canada to address a growing need for a stable and athlete-focused environment at the initiation level, the DQ Rally Cap program has grown to become the program of choice for many minor baseball associations across Canada.

Canada isn’t the only place that you’ll find 4-8 year-olds participating in Rally Cap in 2017, as the Cleveland Indians Youth Baseball program will be piloting the program in four leagues this summer.

Former big leaguer and Cleveland native Matt Kata heads up the Indians Youth Baseball Development efforts and became aware of the Rally Cap program five years ago.

“Through my own research, as someone who wanted to learn as much as possible, I came across Baseball Canada and the programs that the organization was implementing,” explained Kata. “I love the concept (of Rally Cap). I go back to my childhood being in the backyard creating games. It wasn’t 9 vs 9; it was getting so many touches and so many throws. Seeing (Rally Cap) on the surface, the way it’s structured and the goals it was immediately something that I wanted to know more about.”

Following his playing career that concluded in Round Rock, Texas, Kata landed a role with the Triple-A club doing community outreach through baseball camps and clinics. From what he describes as a ‘random LinkedIn connection’ with current Blue Jays’ president Mark Shapiro who was running Cleveland’s front office at the time, Kata jumped at the opportunity to move back home and head-up the Indians Youth Development operations.

“I basically had a blank canvas to grow the (Youth Baseball) department and really try and make an impact on the youth baseball experience. It was exciting,” he said.

With an eye towards implementing the Rally Cap program in some of Cleveland’s local leagues, Kata reached out to Baseball Canada’s André Lachance to learn more about the program.

“Matt called me looking to learn about Rally Cap and our discussions have really been positive,” said Lachance. “I think it’s tremendous what their department will be doing this summer and we’re happy to be a resource for them.”

Four different leagues in the greater Cleveland-area, totaling over 700 kids will be participating in Rally Cap pilot programs this summer.

‘We’ve put our own ‘Indians Way’ spin on the program but the core principals and practice plans are the same (as Rally Cap),” said Kata.

With a focus on coach development and with coaching clinics already underway for the four participating leagues, the program has already been well received.

“Ultimately the coaches are executing the program so it’s our job to provide them with the information that they’ll need to make this happen,” added Kata. “We’re really getting positive reviews so far.”

Even though the pilot programs are set to launch this spring, Kata is extremely confident that Rally Cap will be a home run and has his own personal experience to fall back on.

It was just last summer, through coaching his own children in baseball that Kata decided to incorporate Rally Cap elements into his teachings.

“I was coaching with a friend of mine and said ‘hey, why don’t we try this’,” when discussing using the Rally Cap program instead of playing a regular baseball game. “After seeing how successful it was we approached the commissioner of the league with the idea and they were 100% on board.

“Basically, every kid improved and really enjoyed their summer.”

As with anything, when you introduce change there may be some form of resistance and push back. But for Matt Kata and the Indians’ Youth Development program, the reasons are quite simple for introducing Rally Cap.

“How can you argue when your kid is getting all these reps in the outfield and then sprinting in, getting high fives and playing a baseball game,” he said.

“You get that one opportunity to flip that switch on with baseball. I think it’s the greatest game in the world, but when’s it’s not set up like Rally Cap it may not be the greatest game in the world.”

 

Partners

Rawlings

Rawlings is the official bat, baseball and batting helmet for Baseball Canada’s National Team’s program and all National Championship tournaments. From Major League Baseball ballparks to neighborhood sandlots across the country, Rawlings is everywhere baseball is played. Since the company’s inception in 1887, Rawlings mission has always centered on enabling participation by developing and producing innovative, high-performance equipment and apparel for the professional player. Visit them at www.rawlings.com

More Partners +

MLB Canadians

John Axford

Current MLB Team: Oakland Athletics
Hometown: Port Dover, ON

Umpire of the Week

Week of June 26, 2017

Simeret (SK)

WATCH: 'Rite of Passage' Documentary

Watch as the Canadian Junior National Team travel to the Dominican Republic to play against MLB affiliated academy teams.

Shaped by our Game

Baseball Canada is pleased to introduce Shaped by Our Game, a new initiative on baseball.ca that will profile people who have used our sport to achieve success later in life. Baseball is a sport that provides great life lessons and teaches skills that are applicable for future success in life whether on the baseball field or not.

 Dominic Therrien

 Isabelle Higgins

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD)

What is LTAD?

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a systemic approach being developed and adopted by Baseball Canada to maximize a participant's potential and involvement in our sport. The LTAD framework aims to define optimal training, competition and recovery throughout an athlete's career to enable him / her to reach his / her full potential in baseball and as an athlete.