Reds Youth Academy: August 2021

What's New

In this month’s issue, we’ll cover our July activities and the community events at the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy. As the summer season has transitioned to fall ball, we want to congratulate all of our teams for their hard work and dedication throughout the 2020-21 season!

RBI Regionals

We sent three teams to Indianapolis to compete in the RBI Central Regionals. We were very excited to be back after the Regionals were canceled last year due to COVID-19. Our senior and junior baseball teams, as well as our softball team, competed in Indianapolis for a chance to move on to the RBI World Series. The teams dealt with a number of rain delays on the first day of the tournament which led to a truncated schedule. The senior baseball team overcame the adversity and punched their ticket to the RBI World Series with a 7-5 win over Detroit. The softball team remained undefeated throughout the tournament and capped the weekend with a 9-4 win over St. Louis, earning their third-consecutive trip to the RBI World Series as well. The junior baseball team also played well, although they did not advance. Nevertheless, this marked the first time in Reds RBI history that two regional champions were crowned. The World Series was held from Aug. 2-13 in Vero Beach, Florida.

RBI Banquet

On July 14, the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy was the site for the annual banquet event that featured all of our baseball and softball teams and their families. Each team was recognized, from our 12U to 18U baseball teams and including 10U to 18U softball teams. We also celebrated our senior student-athletes from the softball and baseball teams. Other highlights included the celebration of our scholarship and award winners from 2020 and 2021, including the Reds Academy Member of the Year, MLB Jennie Finch Empowerment Award Winner, Cincinnati RBI Baseball and Softball Scholarships, as well as the MLB RBI for RBI Scholarship winner. Reds RBI All-Stars were also recognized and given the choice of a prize consisting of a Kings Island season pass, Air Jordan sneakers or a new laptop.

2021 Johnny Bench Awards

On July 20, the Reds and the Reds Community Fund hosted the Johnny Bench Awards at Great American Ball Park in conjunction with the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund. The day consisted of a luncheon honoring the winners of the 2021 Johnny Bench Awards, as well a pregame ceremony prior to the Reds-Mets game. The Johnny Bench Awards recognize the top high school baseball and softball catchers in Ohio, Indiana Kentucky and West Virginia. The awards also recognize the nation’s top Division I college baseball and softball catchers. For the first time in program history, one of the 2021 recipients was a Reds draft pick, as the Matheu Nelson from Florida State University, had recently been selected 35th overall by the Reds in this year’s MLB Draft.


Matheu Nelson, Florida State University, baseball
Kayla Kowalik, University of Kentucky, softball

High School

Trey Pancake III, South Range (Ohio), baseball
Madison Jellison, Watkins Memorial (Ohio), softball
Matt Klein, Trinity (Ky.), baseball
Sydney Melton, Lyon County (Ky.), softball
Austin Bode, Columbus North (Ind.), baseball
Sarah Stone, Bedford North Lawrence (Ind.), softball
Parker Redden, Shady Spring (W.V.), baseball
Emily Faith Allen, Parkersburg (W.V.), softball

Fun at Bat

Also in July, the Reds Community Fund hosted the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati at the Reds Youth Academy for a series of Fun At Bat activities. A total of 10 teams participated in the round-robin tournament throughout the week, culminated by a championship game that crowned the Wyler Boys and Girls Club as the 2021 summer champions!

Joe Morgan Association All-Star Game

On July 31, the Reds Community Fund hosted the inaugural “Joe Morgan Association” (JMA) All-Star game. The event featured 22 kids ages 11-12 from several of our key, urban partner organizations, including the Avondale Angels, Madisonville Braves, West End Reds, Cincinnati Tigers and Bellevue Vets.

The evening featured custom uniforms, a P.A. announcer, dinner provided by Ron’s BBQ plus an exciting 10-9 game decided on the final play. The evening showcased some of our most important partners and future RBI student-athletes.

Community Makeover

The Reds, Reds Community Fund, P&G, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Cincinnati Zoo and other partners completed the 2021 Community Makeover service project Thursday, July 29, in Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood.

The day-long volunteer project featured six sites and more than 300 volunteers:

  • Rockdale Academy: Installed solar panels, greenhouse and extraordinary Urban Learning Garden in conjunction with the Cincinnati Zoo; Interior renovations included a new community room plus new books and school supplies for each student.
  • South Avondale Elementary School: Completed work on a new synthetic turf football/soccer field in conjunction with FC Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bengals and the ABC (Activities Beyond the Classroom) Foundation. New books and school supplies were provided for each student. Plus, in partnership with Toys for Tots, free toys were distributed to Avondale children.
  • Taft Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati: Improved facilities and resources for the after-school program; cleaned painted and renovated the Teen Center and student program spaces; installed a new washer and dryer for the laundry room; added new mulch for the playground and new picnic tables in the backyard; supplied toys for the Taft Club Carnival.
  • Rockdale/Harvey Ballfield and Park: Renovated the ball field and added a new playground and basketball court; completed a mural featuring the Tuskegee Airman designed by artist Brent Billingsley.
  • Blair Ball Fields: Began work on a major ball field renovation; upgraded the tennis, pickleball and basketball courts and added other park amenities.
  • Larona Park/Avondale Beautification: Added a walking trail at Larona Park with a shelter installation to follow soon; planted trees and removed honeysuckle throughout Avondale.

A signature element of the 2021 Makeover is the one-acre “Urban Learning Garden” and outdoor classroom at Rockdale Academy, designed by the Cincinnati Zoo. This project received a $45,000 grant for a solar power system from SonLight Power to be used for the greenhouse, which was donated by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

The Makeover was the recipient of a Community Development grant from Cincinnati Children’s to improve child and community health in Avondale. Many of the projects promote vibrant and healthy lifestyles through outdoor activities by leveraging expertise from community partners.