Feb. 2—THOMASVILLE — The Thomasville High School Bulldogs baseball team brought bats and books to Jerger Elementary on Friday morning, teaching second graders the basics of baseball and the history of Jackie Robinson to commemorate his 105th birthday this past Wednesday.
Second-grade teacher Laurie Young said the activities brought to the class by the baseball team incorporate the standards the kids are learning.
"We are learning about famous Georgians and Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo and his birthday was Wednesday," she explained. "There's a story we read titled Luke Goes to Bat about a little boy who lived right by the field Jackie Robinson played on."
According to Young, the story focuses on overcoming adversity, including shyness and how to be brave.
"We try to tie it all in with the story we are reading, Jackie Robinson's birthday, and the kickoff of the Thomasville baseball," Young said.
Young and her fellow teachers told their students a few weeks ago about the exciting opportunity they would have to meet the Bulldogs varsity team, and she said they have asked every day since the news if that day was the big day.
"Some of the kids wore jerseys today and I brought hats for them to all wear," she said. "They were really excited."
Griffin Marchant was one of those students.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I'm really good at baseball and my favorite part is getting to play with them."
Varsity players gave students the opportunity to hit the whiffle ball, as they pitched. Marchant was one of the few kids who hit a home run, excitedly sliding into home plate.
When not pitching to the kids, players read them grade-level-appropriate books about baseball and the life of Jackie Robinson.
Marchant said through class and the books, he learned Robinson was not only a good baseball player but a great sketch artist.
"He was also good at helping people out and didn't mind if other people were mean to him, he just kept on going," Marchant said.
As the baseball players pitched and read to the kids, they said they saw this as an opportunity to talk about the game and influence the next generation.
"Our boys are phenomenal," Young said. "They are so good with kids and do such a good job with being there for them."
Left-handed pitcher Ethan Barrett and 3rd baseman/right-handed pitcher Jadon Lirette spoke on what the experience with the kids meant to them.
"It's a great experience getting to meet all the kids and encourage them to come out to our Fan Day (Saturday)," Lirette said.
Barrett agreed, explaining these young fans are the future.
"These kids are the next Bulldogs, so it helps a lot with the future," Barrett said. "Whiffle ball is where it starts. I've played since I was little and it got me to where I am now."
Barrett and Lirette hope the bonds they formed during Friday's activities will continue to grow as the students grow older and look into pursuing baseball.
"Impressions go a long way," Barrett concluded.
The students definitely got a great impression of the Varsity Bulldogs and look forward to Tuesday's rivalry game over Thomas County Central and cheering on the team.