By Rikki King Herald Writer
EVERETT — Small groups of little girls in bright-blue baseball caps lined up on the fields Tuesday at Kasch Park in south Everett.
They waited behind orange cones and took turns swinging at pitches lobbed by former Kansas City Royals player Darren Watkins.
Marysville Pilchuck High School head baseball coach Kurt Koshelnik reminded them to wear their batting helmets.
This summer camp was different than most, though: There were cops everywhere.
For the second year, the Everett Police Department hosted “Badges for Baseball,” a week-long sports-centered mentoring program.
The camp is funded by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, a nonprofit based in Maryland.
The camp teaches kids sports skills, but also sneaks in lessons about life and growing up safe, said Everett police officer Mark Carter, a camp organizer and school resource officer at Explorer Middle School.
“It’s building relationships with kids and using baseball as the hook to get the kids to teach them about teamwork, healthy decisions, those kinds of things,” he said.
More than 200 kids participated this summer.
Coaches volunteered from around the county, Carter said. The Boys &Girls Club of Snohomish County also helped organize everything.
Sara Hatab, 8, from Endeavour Elementary School, played baseball before but liked the different style of drills at camp, she said. Her mother signed her up.
“I really want to be with my friends, and I like baseball,” she said. “I liked when I swung the bat and the ball flew so high and it landed.”
Volunteer coach Erik Titterness manned a base while kid after kid ran by and slapped his hand, practicing their moves.
Titterness, 17, and the other coaches quizzed the boys on how they should stand over the plate. A couple readjusted their feet as they listened.
“It feels good because you know they’re having fun,” Titterness said. “That’s like the number one rule here.”
The skills challenges were fun, said Devin Donnelson, 12, from Haller Middle School.
No one minded if he missed the ball, he said.
Devin mostly only sees police officers on the TV show, “Cops,” he said.
“It’s good to know they have a good side,” he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org