With baseball season around the corner, students across Cy-Fair ISD schools would typically be getting ready to take the field. Just a few weeks ago, more than 360 economically disadvantaged students were gearing up to kick off the season with a little help from a local nonprofit and a Houston Astros legend.
Dierker’s Champs—a collaborative effort between the nonprofit Cy-Hope and former Astros pitcher, manager and broadcaster Larry Dierker—was slated to kick off March 21 at Cy-Fair High School but has been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league caters to elementary and middle school students within CFISD who are considered economically disadvantaged, said Holly Calbat, director of finance and donor relations with Cy-Hope.
Families are asked to contribute $20 per player to Dierker’s Champs, but that cost is on an “if you can” basis, Calbat said. Cy-Hope covers the costs to hire umpires, to use the fields, and for uniforms and equipment for all players. All coaches are volunteers, and many are CFISD teachers, she said.
Dierker began his partnership to help launch the Cy-Hope league in 2011. He said he is motivated by giving children a chance to take part in something they otherwise would not have been able to.
“When it comes to baseball you really have to start young because there are so many skills,” Dierker said.
As CFISD embarks on plans to repurpose the sports fields at Cy-Fair High School, Dierker’s Champs is poised to begin playing games on land adjacent to Campbell Middle School starting in 2022, Dierker said. He said he and Cy-Hope are looking into opportunities to raise money and potentially purchase the land instead of leasing it, which would help the nonprofit avoid the costs of leasing while also opening doors to lease the fields out when not in use.
Beyond the sport itself, Dierker said he loves to see families getting more involved with their children’s lives.
“When we started out at our own field ... a lot of people would just drop their kids off and pick them up,” he said. “Now, we get the bleachers full. All you have to do is walk out there for 15 minutes one Saturday and look around and walk back. You can feel it. It’s a positive vibe.”