Category Archives: Hear From Our Youth

Austin’s MLB Reviving Baseball In Inner-Cities 18U Team Wins Bid to RBI World Series in Minneapolis

Austin’s MLB Reviving Baseball In Inner-Cities 18U Team Wins Bid to RBI World Series in Minneapolis

Baseball is very much alive in Austin, Texas.

This past weekend, Austin’s MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities affiliate — RBI Austin — hosted the MLB RBI Southwest Regional where teams from four organizations — Houston Astros RBI, New Orleans RBI, Texas Rangers RBI, and RBI Austin — competed for the opportunity to advance to the 2018 RBI World Series in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Regional included three divisions: 15U Baseball, 18U Baseball, and 18U Softball.

RBI Southwest Regional Champions

RBI Austin’s 18U Regional team defeated Houston Astros RBI 4-0 on Sunday, July 29th at Dell Diamond to win the tournament.  After securing three wins in the previous games over the weekend, the Austin boys pulled off this final victory to land them an all-expenses-paid trip to Minnesota to compete against other RBI teams from around the United States as well as Uganda, Curacao, and Puerto Rico.

Eric Worden (McCallum High School ‘18) pitched a complete game shutout on Sunday, leading RBI Austin to its 4-0 Regional championship game victory. Outfielder Harrison Lee (LBJ/LASA High School ‘18) competed at the plate throughout the weekend with three triples. First baseman Aidan Martinez (Hays High School ‘19) set the tone in the first game of the Regional with a walk-off single in extra innings over Houston.

Prior to RBI Austin defeating Houston on Sunday to earn its first 18U RBI Regional championship in program history, Houston had won the 18U RBI Southwest Regional championship in 10 of the past 11 years. Houston Astros RBI alumni include MLB players Anthony Rendon, Chris Young, Carl Crawford, and James Loney.

MLB RBI Regionals + World Series

Over the past several weeks, more than 110 RBI baseball and softball teams competed in Regional tournaments across seven U.S. regions and one World region.

The 26th annual RBI World Series will be hosted by the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 5-10 and includes tournament games, workout days, banquets, community service events and more. During this five day competition, the RBI Austin team will participate in a showcase where they can further demonstrate their skills.

The MLB RBI program is designed to promote the games of baseball and softball to young men and women in underserved and diverse communities where, often times, sports programs and initiatives are lacking or unobtainable.

MLB Clubs have drafted more than 200 RBI participants throughout the program’s 30-year history, and many others have been given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. RBI currently serves young men and women in over 300 programs in approximately 200 cities worldwide. MLB and its Clubs have designated more than $40 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues (



We’re wrapping up our Summer 2018 RBI Austin Spotlights with the mighty T-Ball Mets!


Jaelynn Hernandez
6 years old
2nd year with RBI Austin

Q: What’s your favorite thing about playing softball?
JaelynnTrying my best and learning how to hit the ball better.

Q: What do you hope to learn this summer?
JaelynnTo use my legs more. And to get better at throwing and hitting. I want to hit the ball hard because [I think about bullies and people who litter.]

Q: Who is one of your favorite people in your life?
JaelynnMy mom. And my uncle who helped me at home. We played catch out front!

Jessica Hernandez
Mother of Jaelynn
2nd year with RBI Austin

Q: How did you hear about RBI?
JessicaThrough her school. They had a spring carnival and had a booth set up and that’s how we learned about it. I had never heard about RBI at all and she’s my oldest, and because I never played sports, I said to do this! But, she liked it when we got her going and she played with RBI to start off with and then played fall ball, spring ball, and now she’s back again.

Q: How’s your experience with RBI been so far?
JessicaI like it! Everyone is real friendly and it’s really diverse. I like that she gets to play with people that are like her and everyone is really welcoming. It’s a good atmosphere all around.

Q: Who was the biggest influence on your life?
JessicaMy mom. It’s just me, my mom, and my brother. Family is like the thing that’s most important lesson that she’s taught us. She was adopted so she doesn’t have family. Family and that no matter what you do you can always go to her and tell her things without feeling that judgement or disappointment.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to be on a team sport?
JessicaI think it helps you care about others and care about feelings. I think that it shows a kid how to empathize and I think that’s what kids need to learn. It teaches self-worth and just basic social skills. How to treat others, how to work as one,  and how to work towards a goal as one team.

David Ciccocioppo
TBALL Mets Coach
5th year RBI Austin

Q: How did you hear about RBI?
DavidI think I heard about it through MLB. And then we moved to the East Side about seven years ago.

Q: What made you decide to coach?
DavidI really love the game. I played all growing up. I like the mission of RBI, I like the idea of giving the opportunity to inner city kids and the kids who don’t have the money for all the fancy equipment and all the select teams and all that kind of stuff. It gives them an old school way of coming out to the field and just playing. It’s competitive but it’s not like we’re training these guys to be major leaguers. It’s teaching them about competition, sportsmanship, teamwork, all that good stuff. And if my boys are going to be playing I have to be a coach because I can’t just sit back and watch them.

Q: What’s one thing you hope your t-ballers learn this summer?
DavidI want them to learn that this is a fun game. And I want them to feel it so that they come back next year.

Q: Who is one of the biggest influences on your life?
DavidI had this coach when I was in 4thgrade in Washington D.C. There was a Little League and my house was right there. There was a man named Doug Rice, I think he was married, but he was my coach from 4th– 8thgrade and I remember him being very motivational but he never had to yell. He was just one of those people who you want to make happy and want to please. He carried himself in a certain way that you wanted to make him proud.

Q: How do you think baseball, or any sport, betters a player #BeyondTheField?
DavidIt’s the whole idea of teamwork and sportsmanship. Dealing with losses and failures. Feeling the joys that come with successes. Those are all things that you experience in the real world when you get older. When you grow up and get a job, you have to deal with losing and winning and working with people. I like the idea that in baseball, everybody gets a turn at bat. That’s your one moment to shine but it’s still in the context of a team sport. You’re doing your part to help the team win, even though it’s hyper focused on you. You have this moment now where you can have a success or a failure, but it affects the whole team as well.

SPOTLIGHT: 8U Coach Pitch Cardinals

SPOTLIGHT: 8U Coach Pitch Baseball Cardinals

Do we have any other parents or grandparents out there that leave your kiddo’s game hoarse?! We love hearing about parents + grandparents cheering on their children from the stands while coaches are seeing change + development + growth happening in the dugout, on the field, and beyond! 

Meet Lucas, his coach David, and grandmother Julia from the 8U Coach Pitch Baseball Cardinals.

Lucas Rodriguez – 8U Coach Pitch Baseball

8 Years Old
2nd Year with RBI Austin
8U CP Cardinals


Q:Is this your first year with RBI Austin?

Lucas: No, it’s my fourth. I’ve been playing baseball for RBI for two years.


Q: How did you hear about RBI?

Lucas: My grandma.


Q: Why did you want to play baseball out of all sports?

Lucas: I’m not sure.


Q: But you like it though?

Lucas: Correct.


Q:What is something you hope to learn this season?

Lucas: I’m not sure yet…


Q: Is there a position you want to get better at though?

Lucas: Catcher. I played it once and I liked it! I would want to get better at second and pitcher though.


Q: Why do you think it’s important to play on a team sport?

Lucas: Because you have a team and it doesn’t feel super good to not be on a team.


Q: Why do you like having your teammates?

Lucas: They help me get better!


Q: What is something you always look forward to when playing baseball?

Lucas: Games. You can play different positions and you can get points, but at practice you don’t get points.

Q:What’s your favorite baseball team?

Lucas: The Astros.



Coach David Brahmall

8U CP Cardinals

2nd Year RBI Austin coach


Q: How did you hear about RBI?

David: So I moved to Austin about five years ago, and I played baseball growing up. I had always been interested in volunteering and coaching baseball. I had some good friends at work that had coached for RBI and I had always wanted to do it and it sounded interesting but it never worked out until last year.

Q: What brought you back this year to coach again?

David: My co-coach Alex and I coached last year and we had a really good time with the kids — teaching them, helping them to engage, develop, and transform. Last year,  over half our team had never seen a baseball before. We had to teach them how to throw, how to run, how to get excited, and how to love the game. It was amazing to see our team, who at the beginning of the season was getting crushed, end the season winning a game in the playoffs. It was just amazing to see their skills develop and their attitude and determination change, not just in the game but beyond the field. Hopefully that translates to life, seeing that made me want to come back. We had four or five kids from last year, like Lucas, come back so we want to continue to serve them. Just to be able to do that again with more kids and be able to mentor them during the baseball season.

Q: Who is one of the biggest influences on your life?

David: I would say my dad. As far as baseball goes. He loved baseball, played baseball growing up, taught me baseball.  While my wife and I don’t have kids yet, I hope to teach them baseball at some point. Right now, I’m just hoping to teach other kids. But yeah, my dad for sports and life in general. I feel like he always taught me to have to power to succeed and to drive and to also encourage and help other people. He’s been a big influence on me in a lot of ways.


Julia Castillo

Grandmother of Lucas Rodriguez
2nd Year with RBI Austin
8U CP Cardinals


Q: What is one reason why you feel that a team sport is important?

Julia: I think its because of friendship and learning it’s not just about you. And working well with others. Learning that it’s “We did it, we did it together”, I think is awesome. Coaches like Coach David bring a lot to helping these kids promote each other and cheer each other on and be good sports to the other team. I like it when I see one of the teammates or Lucas high-five another kid coming off of the plate whether they hit the ball or didn’t.

Q: How do you think baseball or sports in general help #BeyondTheField?

Julia: Everywhere you go and everywhere you work you’re going to be working with a group to achieve something. Watching kids learn to do that and to respect each other and look past faults and difficulties and still be good sports about everything is really a life skill. It’s a skill you need when you go to work and for the rest of your life.


Q: What’s your favorite thing about having Lucas play baseball?

Julia: I come from Oklahoma and we only do baseball. Coming and watching these kids every game is amazing, watching them in the field is amazing, watching them achieve something and grow in self-confidence is [just amazing]. I leave here hoarse every game, I have no voice after every game.

Courage and Pride: You’re giving these gifts

  A fresh haircut, a new suit jacket, hours of practicing his speech – none of these stopped the nerves from coming on Thursday morning.
Watch Leighton & Booker’s video

“He was terrified. We didn’t know for sure how many people he would be speaking in front of, but I just kept encouraging him, ‘You can do it.’

So, when I saw my 12-year-old son on that stage talking to a ballroom filled with people, I teared up.

I can honestly say that was one of the moments I’ve been most proud of Leighton. 

He was nervous the day of the event, but he had Booker’s support, Matt’s support, and my support. He did something he was scared of doing because he believes his story is important.”

Willie Mae, Leighton’s mom, reflected on the pride she had in her son as he presented during the 2018 Now at Bat program in front of 815 guests.

This is just one example of how service like yours is impacting East Austin families — giving a boy courage and a mother pride in her son.

Spending time with your RBI Austin kids can and will change lives.

Because of involvement like yours, someone is there to teach Leighton how to pick out a suit, how to practice public speaking, how to do things that push him out of his comfort zone.

More importantly, a positive, adult role model is speaking the love and grace of Jesus Christ into Leighton — motivating him and us to love others sacrificially.

Watch Leighton & Booker’s video

Meet the Team: T-Ball Royals

Meet the Team: T-Ball Royals

Player: Kiyan

  • TEAM: T-Ball Royals
  • TIME with RBI: First season
  • SCHOOL: Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary
  • CAREER DREAMS: What do you want to be when you grow up? A Disney actor
  • LOVE OF THE GAME: What’s your favorite part about playing baseball? It’s awesome!
  • FAVORITE POSITION: Center field
  • FAVORITE PLAYER: Who is your favorite baseball player? The girl, Mo’ne Davis

 Parent: Amanda

  • RBI KIDS: One son, Kiyan.
  • TIME with RBI: This is our first season.
  • PERSONAL VALUE: What do you think Kiyan gains the most from being involved with RBI off of the ball field? The friendships and teamwork. 
  • BASEBALL PARENT: What’s the hardest part about being a baseball parent? The heat!
  • FAVORITE PART OF THE GAME: What is your favorite part of the game of baseball? Watching the kids play. They’re so cute!


Coach: Allie

  • TIME with RBI:This is my second year coaching with RBI! 
  • FAVORITE RBI MEMORY: Seeing some of our smallest players develop into kids that can throw, hit, and run super confidently.
  • PARENTS and PLAYERS: What do you think families and players gain the most from being involved with RBI? Community, friendship and just learning how to play sports. You learn a lot through team sports and parents get to grow as they get to watch their kids and learn from them. It can be very encouraging.
  • FAVORITE BASEBALL MEMORY: What’s your favorite baseball memory? One of our kids who was going to be placed on a different team this summer, ended up being placed with us again. He’s been hitting home-runs for us left and right. It’s incredible to be able to see the amount of confidence he’s gained and just how much he has grown since last year.

Meet the Team: 8U Coach Pitch Royals

Meet the Team: 8U Baseball Royals

Player: Beckett

  • TEAM: 8U Baseball Royals
  • TIME with RBI: Third season
  • SCHOOL: Laurel Mountain Elementary
  • CAREER DREAMS: What do you want to be when you grow up? An inventor. I would invent a hover car and they’re going to come in bright colors.
  • LOVE OF THE GAME: What’s your favorite part about playing baseball? Being able to play with my friends
  • FAVORITE PLAYER: Who is your favorite baseball player? I don’t know. I don’t really like baseball. My favorite team is the Express so my favorite player is probably Spike. I’ve been to his dog house 25 times.

Parent: Alyssa

  • RBI KIDS: One son, Beckett.
  • TIME with RBI: This is our third season.
  • PERSONAL VALUE: What do you think Beckett gains the most from being involved with RBI off of the ball field? Sportsmanship, being part of a team, and being part of something bigger than himself. He also gets to cheer on his teammates.
  • PROUD PARENT: When is a time you were most proud of Beckett? I’m most proud of him when I see him being compassionate to other people. He’s very aware of all the homeless people on the side of the road. He wants to know all about them and help them. Any time he thinks of other people first, I’m proud of him.
  • BASEBALL PARENT: What’s the hardest part about being a baseball parent?It’s a time commitment. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but people are working and living all over the city so it’s definitely a big time commitment. Well worth it, though. 
  • GAMEDAY MUST-HAVE: What is something you have to have with you when you are watching a game? Every game I bring a squirt bottle and I spray all the players to keep them cool. It’s very popular.


Coach: Brian

  • TIME with RBI:This is my 5th year involved with RBI but my first year with coach pitch. Beckett is my son so I’ve just moved up through age groups as he’s gotten older.
  • BACKGROUND: Did you play sports growing up? I played sports, but I was from a really small town and we didn’t have a lot of money so I didn’t play baseball. I played soccer, basketball and some softball and I always enjoyed it.
  • LEARNING FROM THE KIDS: What’s something you’ve learned from Beckett? Resilience and keeping focused. He has cystic fibrosis so putting on weight and muscle and everything about sports is hard for him. We try to push him towards sports to help him with that, but it’s always a struggle. When he was struggling to get a hit last season, he was really determined. He said he wanted to go out and practice 20 minutes a day every day until he got a hit. Getting to cheer him on is awesome.
  • PARENTS and PLAYERS: What do you think families and players gain the most from being involved with RBI? I think RBI is a family. We talk about cheering on each other, and I think it brings out a commonality. All of these parents drive so far and put in so much time and effort so getting all of the players together is really special. A couple games ago a few of our players said they were glad their coaches didn’t yell at them so we try to always be positive and encouraging for our players, even when we’re correcting them.
  • PROGRAM VALUE: What do you think you gain from being involved with RBI? The relationships with the players and seeing them all growing up from season to season. Seeing them remembering the value of teamwork and knowing that they always have people around them who they can lean on.

Angel & Arturo’s Story

Angel & Arturo’s Story

Story by: Lori Richter
Photos by: Jennifer Crane

“Nobody had to hold him down when they crucified him. He just took it!” says Angel, a Reagan High School student, as he relates his eye-opening encounter with Christ.

Angel plays for the Blazers, a Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team. Sponsored by Major League Baseball, RBI’s mission is to bring baseball back to areas where youth baseball programs have disappeared. Austin’s RBI chapter partners with The For the City Network and The Austin Stone Community Church.

Angel and his friend Arturo were in a Bible study last year with the Blazers. Their coaches observed God working in the boys’ hearts. Arturo was very inquisitive, while Angel was quieter. During the last study of the year, tears welled up in Angel’s eyes as he grasped the truth that Christ was his hope and a Savior who would never leave him.

Blazers coach Sam Bohmfalk, a senior Journalism major at The University of Texas, says of Angel, “He’s begun to take on more of a leadership role with our baseball team. … He’s starting to recognize that he can spread the Word of God through doing positive things for those around him.”

Sam took Angel and Arturo to Georgia for a Young Life camp. The boys excitedly reminisce about the ride in a charter bus, fishing in the lake, diving, riding the zip line, testing their courage on the ropes course, and lastly, the girls.

Their words pack an emotional punch when they describe how they came to understand God’s love. Arturo reflects, “It opened our eyes to what he’s done for us. He died on the cross and didn’t even move when they stabbed him with the nails. He’s done so much; he’s forgiven our sin.”

Sam has noticed God’s redemptive work in Arturo. He says, “He’s begun to pray and think about his life. He used to gauge whether or not he should do something by what the world around him would say, but now he has taken the approach of asking the question, ‘Is this pleasing to God?’”

Arturo and Angel both recognize that their view of God has changed. Arturo says, “I wasn’t into God. It was a rare occasion that I needed him. I didn’t think of him or pray at night. Now I talk to him. I read the Bible. It’s hard to read, but interesting.”

Angel and Arturo have dreams for the future and hope to help their families go deeper than their own ambitions. As Arturo observes how hard his dad works, he desires to help provide for his family financially through going to college and playing professional baseball. Angel, who would like to be a Marine, shares this desire to provide for his family.

Arturo is full of gratitude for what God has already provided for him. He says, “I am blessed! God has given me this opportunity to play baseball and to make friends. I thank God for the field, the batting cages, and the equipment he’s given me!”