Our chat with Caleb Kimmel, founder of the World Baseball Academy in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
When was the World Baseball Academy founded and what is its mission?
World Baseball Academy (WBA) grew from a small tournament organization, Between the Lines, that I founded in 2000 led by my passion for making a positive difference in the lives of kids. Later, my mentors and I acted on our vision to create WBA as a not-for-profit that would use the platform of baseball to teach young people fundamentals of a sport and life.
Today, World Baseball Academy owns and operates the ASH Centre athletic complex while serving over 8,000+ boys and girls each year through programs and activities that fulfill our vision of developing the next generation of young leaders.
How does the WBA aim to impact the community?
WBA’s passion for developing young people inspires us to reach all kids, not just those whose families can afford baseball lessons and teams, or those who are physically or developmentally capable of mainstream competitive sports. That’s why WBA offers the On Deck Initiative for underserved and at-risk boys and girls.
World Baseball Academy’s On Deck Initiative is a series of programs that serve area at-risk boys and girls ages 5 - 18 to help them reach their full potential, overcoming challenges including socioeconomic status and intellectual or physical disability. Opportunities to learn, be mentored, and to serve are offered at no cost (free) to families. In 2022, On Deck Initiative served over 1,800 area at-risk youth involved in an array of services including:
Adaptive Services (serving children with physical and/or developmental disabilities in partnership with YMCA, Turnstone, Special Olympics and Alternative Baseball).
Badges for Baseball (collaborative effort with the Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, and area law enforcement departments in hopes of strengthening relationships between urban youth and police officers.)
New Covenant Camp, on the campus of New Covenant Worship Center and in partnership with The Impact Center in Southeast Fort Wayne (mentoring and lessons as offered at ASH Centre Summer Camps)
STEM Education (Boys and girls learn lessons about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math when WBA teaches how geometry, reaction time, balance, accuracy, velocity and transfer of energy are integral to the game of baseball. WBA goes to classrooms and invites class field trips to the ASH Centre)
CORE (year ‘round mentoring and leadership development for middle & high school students)
WBA Leadership Academy (6-stage personal development program for high school students)
Outdoor Ballfield Access (Free access to first class facilities for Alternative Baseball, Special Olympics, Revival Baseball Southeast, Smith Academy and multiple Little Leagues)
Who are some famous alumni or people associated with the WBA?
This is a unique question! World Baseball Academy is a collaborative entity that has worked with nearly every baseball entity within Northeast Indiana. WBA has been blessed to host numerous camps and clinics that feature area MLB alumni such as Eric Wedge, Lloyd McClendon, Rob Bowen, Dave Doster, Matt Kinzer, Pedro Hernandez, Jarrett Grube and many MiLB players.
WBA facilities, programs and tournaments have had a wide range of MLB and MiLB participants during their amateur years of development. (See List)
How can people support the World Baseball Academy?
World Baseball Academy remains grateful and honored that so many individuals, families, companies and foundations consider our organization worthy of their support. We are proud to play a growing role in northeast Indiana’s legacy of creating and maintaining important youth sports opportunities for boys and girls. We are prouder still of the young women and men who have experienced our mentors and programming and who are now making our most important vision come true: being leaders who positively impact the world.
You can create new opportunities for positive development for kids too! Anyone may make a tax-deductible charitable donation to World Baseball Academy, Inc. toward one of three areas:
On Deck Initiative -- Year Round Mentoring opportunities for at-risk youth
International Mission Trips --- Annual week long baseball mission trips to underdeveloped nations
General Operations --- Helping support the maintaining of our 1st class ASH Centre campus
What does "Support Local Baseball" mean to you?
WBA’s passion for developing young people inspires us to reach all kids. Our leadership works hard to discover new and innovative ways to use the platform of baseball to reach our entity community in hopes of developing our next generation of young leaders. Every young person matters! Our organization just happens to use the platform of baseball as our outlet to serve as a youth development entity.
That is what "support local baseball" means to us!
You can learn more about the World Baseball Academy by visiting: www.worldbaseballacademy.com