By John Philip Wyllie
Nearly 200 county elementary, middle school and high school students converged upon the San Diego Hall of Champions Tuesday for a day of learning and fun at the Eighth Annual San Diego Fantasy Baseball Educational Tournament. For eight hours shrieks and groans filled the air as these students battled each other in an engaging game which combines elements of chance with baseball and mathematical concepts.
Developed by local educator Tim Scheidt, Fantasy Baseball motivates students by pairing mathematics with baseball in an interactive game. A dramatic departure from the all too familiar out of the book lecture format, Fantasy Baseball makes math come alive while it fosters a deeper understanding of America’s national pastime.
Students were warmly greeted by former MLB All-Star catcher and current San Diego Surf Dawgs Manager, Terry Kennedy and team mascot, South Paw, as well as Channel 4 Baseball Color Analyst Mark Grant. Guest speakers Kennedy and Grant shared their baseball insights during a lunchtime question and answer period. Both stressed the importance of gaining a solid education.
Teachers and parents from all over the county joined their students for the event and spoke in glowing terms about the impact of Fantasy Baseball on their students. By word of mouth the program has spread throughout the county, state and nation.
San Diego’s Pershing Middle School is one of the program’s strongholds. Over 300 of the school’s math students currently use Fantasy Baseball as a means of improving their knowledge of fractions, decimals, probability, percentages, geometry, algebra and statistics.
“Once you introduce Fantasy Baseball into your classroom it gets every kid ready to learn and ready to go. They are just starving for it,” said Pershing Middle School teacher, Nicole Buchanan. “Both my boys and girls are enthusiastic about it. That includes kids that you (often) can’t reach like English language learners, kids that aren’t high achievers, kids that you can’t even get to bring a pencil with them and sometimes kids that don’t (particularly) like baseball.”
“(To the kids) it is baseball. They don’t realize that they are learning math,” added Buch-anan’s Pershing Middle School colleague, Melissa Boethe. “Discipline becomes a non-issue. You don’t have to worry about your kids losing their focus. Fantasy Baseball reels them in without them knowing it.”
Lorena Real, a student at Juarez-Lincoln Accelerated School, enjoyed the tournament even though her team failed to win one of the championship medals provided by Kings Trophies and Engraving.
“Some of my friends were jealous because I got to come here today and I am getting to go to the (Surf Dawgs) baseball game tonight (as a special guest of the team),” Real said. For her, participating in the tournament was a good way to complete what was a very positive experience. “I learned a lot of new things and more Math playing Fantasy Baseball than I ever did before. I learned a lot about baseball too (such as) on-base percentages and batting averages.”
Brian Enriquez, a ninth grader at Mission Bay High School has always struggled with Math.
“Math is still hard for me, but now it has become more interesting,” Enriquez said. “(Fantasy Baseball) is fun and you get to meet new people. I’ve learned some new Math strategies doing this that will help me in the real world.”
San Diego Hall of Champions founder, Robert Breitbard, a staunch supporter of the program for many years, received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the group when he was called up to the podium. After awarding several autographed items generously donated by tournament sponsor UpperDeck, the group reconvened at SDSU’s Tony Gwynn Stadium. There they were given the VIP treatment as they watched the Golden League leading Surf Dawgs take a double header from the Samurai Bears.
For further information contact Outreach Coordinator Tim Scheidt at (619) 670-1521.