DPS, Otterbots partner for educational initiatives

August 3rd, 2021

In their inaugural season, the Danville Otterbots have partnered with Danville Public Schools (DPS) on several initiatives to promote education and wellness to both students and the community at large.

"As a community steward who is much more than 'just the baseball team,' the Otterbots recognize the importance of education in creating generational change within our community,” Otterbots general manager Austin Scher said. “As a new STEAM-heavy industry continues to come into Danville and Southside Virginia, our students need to be ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. The ‘Bots’ in Otterbots is there for a reason: our team was built to be part of Danville's future. The Otterbots could not be prouder to play a role in creating new and unique educational opportunities for our youth, while increasing quality of life for families across the region.”

The Otterbots participated in DPS STEAM nights in May 2021 and will continue their involvement for many years to come. Scher said being able to meet students, teachers, and families who stopped by their table at STEAM Nights was an incredible experience for the team.

The division and the Otterbots collaborated on the first ever DPS Summer Coding Camp in June, in which students had the opportunity to attend an Otterbots baseball game June 16. There, students participated in the activities arranged by Otterbots staff, which included between-innings activities focused on the importance of STEM education within the world of baseball. The Otterbots team, along with mascot Scotter, visited Johnson Elementary School on June 17 to spend one-on-one time with campers and teachers and discuss more about how learning to code can lead to a career in sports. The team looks forward to continued involvement with coding camps.

The Otterbots worked with DPS on a hiring spree prior to the 2021 season in an effort to provide fun, flexible and unique summer job opportunities for high school students across the city. It is the team’s goal to employ as many local students as possible every summer, creating a pipeline of future interns and full-time staff who grew up within this community. More than 50 percent of the Otterbots 2021 Game Day Staff team are local high school students.

The Otterbots also partnered with Noblis to present the first annual BOTS STEM Night, which was held Saturday, July 31. Plans for the evening included honoring of STEM teachers from DPS schools, highlighting the George Washington High School Cyber team, promoting the STEM curriculum offered to local students, and a one-of-a-kind Rally Towel giveaway for fans. The concourse was also full of local businesses with STEM-focused job and career opportunities.

The Otterbots and DPS are excited to be able to bring baseball and softball into the elementary school physical education curriculum beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, thanks to USA Baseball’s Fun at Bat program. Schools will receive equipment and instructional information free of charge, and students will be introduced to the game of baseball across the city.

The Otterbots and DPS will also begin a summer reading program in 2022, kicking off on read across day during March. Elementary and middle school students will be given the chance to win prizes and take part in Reader Appreciation Night with the Otterbots just for staying academically active between school years. The Otterbots mascot, staff and players will visit each elementary and middle school in the district during the spring semester as part of the kick-off festivities.

In addition, Scher officially joined the DPS Education Foundation Board in June. As an organization, the Otterbots recognize the importance of keeping students, parents and teachers engaged with the community, and vise-versa.

“As the son of a career public educator from Durham, N.C., I know how vital it is to engage students in fun and exciting ways,” Scher said. “Through the sport of baseball and the Otterbots' unique brand of entertainment, the possibilities for our students and our community are endless. We could not be more thankful to Dr. Angela Hairston and her team, Anne Moore-Sparks and the DPS Education Foundation, administrators, teachers, parents and students across the city for the opportunity to go to work on their behalf for many years to come.”