Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Baseball coach turns old building into study room

‘FULLY COMMITTED’:Hu borrowed baseballs and bats from other schools, and took his players near a coastal breakwater for practice, as the team lacked equipment

By Wang Chun-chi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Volunteer baseball coach Hu Wen-wei, left, poses with players from Sincheng Elementary School in Hualien County in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Hu Wen-wei

A man who volunteers as a baseball coach for elementary school students in rural Hualien last year renovated an old residential unit near a school building to allow students to study and borrow books at no cost.

Hu Wen-wei (胡文偉), 43, has a degree in fine arts, but said that he has always been passionate about baseball.

Seven years ago, he joined a project to engage rural youth in farming, which brought him to Hualien’s Yuli Township (玉里), Hu said.

He decided to stay following his experiences working the children in the township, Hu said, adding that he has been using his personal time to raise money for children’s baseball teams and train players.

Hu said he helped establish teams and build baseball diamonds at southern Hualien’s Yuli Elementary School and San Min Junior High School.

Hu also published a baseball training anthem and a series of training videos, and has attracted the interest of many fellow volunteers, who he has been working with, he said.

Last year, Hu moved to Sincheng Township (新城) in northern Hualien, where he helped establish a baseball team at Sincheng Elementary School, he said.

As the team initially lacked a baseball field and funds for buying equipment, Hu borrowed baseballs and bats from other schools, and took his players to an open space near a coastal breakwater for practice.

“I was fully committed to building this team from the ground up,” Hu said, adding that some people were initially skeptical about his ability to adequately coach the children on his own.

However, his commitment eventually paid off as current and former professional athletes learned about the team and traveled to Sincheng to help him, Hu said.

Subsequently, the Sincheng team went on to win small and large matches throughout the nation, Hu said, adding that he was inspired to give the team players their own “home away from home” to study, read, play the piano or engage in other extra-curricular activities.

“If there is only baseball in one’s life, they will be lacking in character. If one day they do not have baseball, then they will not have anything,” Hu said.

“The study room has really become like their second home. After baseball practice, despite being tired, they recharge there,” Sincheng Elementary School baseball team head coach Hsu Chih-hao (許志豪) said.

Hu said he is happy to see the young players receive proper baseball training, but added that other forms of study would help prepare them for the real world as adults.

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